Research Division Seminar
Using the Visible Spectral Reflectance Properties to Probe Aqueous Alteration in the Solar System

Dr. Faith Vilas


During the past 50 years, we have witnessed humankind’s first good, detailed look at the planets in our known Solar System.  All of these advances built upon Earth-based telescopic observations.  We predict surface conditions on other Solar System bodies before spacecraft reach them for in situ study.  The dominant type of asteroid identified telescopically in the main asteroid belt is classed as a C-complex asteroid, likely the origin of many of the primitive carbonaceous chondrite meteorites.

In the visible spectral region, one prominent, identifying spectral feature indicating the presence of Fe2+ → Fe3+ in clay minerals is located near 0.7 µm in over half of the C-complex asteroids.  Using its spectral presence, we can constrain the presence and thermal history of these objects in the Solar System.  I will describe the feature, and the implications of the evidence of its presence.  As an illustration, I will then show how we can use the presence of this feature to probe Solar System developmental history through examining the spectra of the jovian outer irregular satellites.


About the talk

Using the Visible Spectral Reflectance Properties to Probe Aqueous Alteration in the Solar System
Dr. Faith Vilas
Tuesday October 26, 2021 - 10:30 GMT+1  (Aula)
en     en

About the speaker

Dr. Faith Vilas’ research has focused on both ground and space-based telescopic reflectance observations of a variety of solar system objects. She has published many leading articles on the spectrophotometric and compositional properties of low-albedo asteroids, dwarf planets, Mercury, the Moon, and many of the outer planet satellites. Her work includes the definitive ground-based spectral observations of Mercury (no iron there!) that have been confirmed by the MESSENGER mission’s observations. She has contributed to the first mineral identifications in the MESSENGER imaging data in her examination of Hollows terrains. Dr. Vilas has been a leader in the identification of aqueous alteration on asteroids. She is studying the phenomenon of space weathering of planetary regoliths, and has developed a new soil maturity test for S-complex asteroids.