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Simulation of space weathering of planet-forming materials: Nanosecond pulse laser irradiation and proton implantation on olivine and pyroxene samples


For the purpose of simulating the surface alteration process called “space weathering”, experiments of pulse laser irradiation, proton implantation, and laser irradiation to proton implanted samples were performed and reflectance spectra of altered materials were measured. To simulate the impact heating by micrometeorite bombardments, we made a new apparatus using a pulse laser whose pulse duration is 6–8 nanoseconds, comparable with a timescale of micrometeorite impacts. We find that the degree of space weathering, i.e., change of reflectance spectrum should depend on mineral composition. Laser irradiation onto olivine produces the largest reduction of albedo and the highest reddening of reflectance spectrum. In general, variation of olivine spectra is much larger than that of pyroxenes. Depths of absorption bands do not change in the scaled spectra. The olivine spectrum after the laser irradiation can match spectra of some olivine asteroids within a subtype of S-type asteroids. Comparison of Vesta spectrum with altered pyroxene spectra suggests that Vesta surface would be relatively older than olivine asteroids. We also investigate the influence of solar wind proton and pyroxene FeO content. The proton implantation causes small changes in olivine and enstatite spectra. Implanted protons do not influence spectral change by the laser irradiation: the laser irradiation and the proton implantation do not produce multiplicative but additive changes on the reflectance spectra. FeO content of pyroxenes does not relate to the degree of reflectance change.


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Correspondence to Maho Yamada.

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Yamada, M., Sasaki, S., Nagahara, H. et al. Simulation of space weathering of planet-forming materials: Nanosecond pulse laser irradiation and proton implantation on olivine and pyroxene samples. Earth Planet Sp 51, 1255–1265 (1999).

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  • Olivine
  • Laser Irradiation
  • Space Weathering
  • Enstatite
  • Pulse Laser Irradiation