Featured Image: The Challenges of Modeling an Asteroid

Recently, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft traveled to the near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu and spent two years studying the surface of this rocky body. An example view OSIRIS-REx captured using its MapCam color imager is shown as the background layer of the photo above (click for the full image!); the ~50 overlaid colored regions are tiles from a high-resolution shape model. Scientists use shape models to better interpret MapCam’s photometry of Bennu’s rough surface, since we must account for variations in the asteroid’s surface texture, color, albedo, and composition. In a new study led by Dathon Golish (Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona), a team of scientists has worked to improve our analysis of asteroid Bennu with photometric models. To read more about the authors’ work and results, check out the original article below.


“Regional Photometric Modeling of Asteroid (101955) Bennu,” D. R. Golish et al 2021 Planet. Sci. J. 2 124. doi:10.3847/PSJ/abfd3c