Global geologic map of asteroid (101955) Bennu indicates heterogeneous resurfacing in the past 500,000 years

Jawin, E.R.; McCoy, T.J.; Walsh, K.J.; Connolly, H.C.; Ballouz, R.-L.; Ryan, A.J.; Kaplan, H.H.; Pajola, M.; Hamilton, V.E.; Barnouin, O.S.; Emery, J.P. and (2022). Global geologic map of asteroid (101955) Bennu indicates heterogeneous resurfacing in the past 500,000 years. Icarus, 381, article no. 114992.



Global geologic maps are useful tools for efficient interpretation of a planetary body, and they provide global context for the diversity and evolution of the surface. We used data acquired by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft to create the first global geologic map of the near-Earth asteroid (101955) Bennu. As this is the first geologic map of a small, non-spherical, rubble-pile asteroid, we discuss the distinctive mapping challenges and best practices that may be useful for future exploration of similar asteroids, such as those to be visited with the Hera and Janus missions. By mapping on two centimeter-scale global image mosaics (2D projected space) and a centimeter-scale global shape model (3D space), we generated three input maps respectively describing Bennu's shape features, geologic features, and surface texture. Based on these input maps, we defined two geologic units: the Smooth Unit and the Rugged Unit. The units are differentiated primarily on the basis of surface texture, concentrations of boulders, and the distributions of lineaments, mass movement features, and craters. They are bounded by several scarps. The Rugged Unit contains abundant boulders and signs of recent mass movement. It also has fewer small (<20 m), putatively fresh craters than the Smooth Unit, suggesting that such craters have been erased in the former. Based on these geologic indicators, we infer that the Rugged Unit has the younger surface of the two. Differential crater size-frequency distributions and the distribution of the freshest craters suggest that both unit surfaces formed ~10–65 million years ago, when Bennu was located in the Main Asteroid Belt, and the Smooth Unit has not been significantly resurfaced in the past 2 million years. Meanwhile, the Rugged Unit has experienced resurfacing within the past ~500,000 years during Bennu's lifetime as a near-Earth asteroid. The geologic units are consistent with global diversity in slope, surface roughness, normal albedo, and thermal emission spectral characteristics. The site on Bennu where the OSIRIS-REx mission collected a regolith sample is located in the Smooth Unit, in a small crater nested within a larger one. So although the Smooth Unit is an older surface than the Rugged Unit, the impact-crater setting indicates that the material sampled was recently exposed. Several similarities are apparent between Bennu and asteroid (162173) Ryugu from a global geologic perspective, including two geologic units distinguishable by variations in the number density of boulders, as well as in other datasets such as brightness.

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