Open Access

Impact process of boulders on the surface of asteroid 25143 Itokawa—fragments from collisional disruption

  • A. M. Nakamura13Email author,
  • T. Michikami23,
  • N. Hirata33,
  • A. Fujiwara43,
  • R. Nakamura53,
  • M. Ishiguro63,
  • H. Miyamoto73, 83,
  • H. Demura33,
  • K. Hiraoka13,
  • T. Honda13,
  • C. Honda43,
  • J. Saito93,
  • T. Hashimoto43 and
  • T. Kubota43
Earth, Planets and Space200860:BF03352756

Received: 3 November 2006

Accepted: 11 April 2007

Published: 12 February 2008


The subkilometer-size asteroid 25143 Itokawa is considered to have a gravitationally bounded rubble-pile structure. Boulders appearing in high-resolution images retrieved by the Hayabusa mission revealed the genuine outcome of the collisional event involving the asteroid’s parent body. Here we report that the boulders’ shapes and structures are strikingly similar to laboratory rock impact fragments despite differences of orders of magnitude in scale and complexities of the physical processes. These similarities suggest the universal character of the process throughout the range of these scales, and the brittle and structurally continuous nature regarding the parent body of the boulders. The similarity was likely preserved because of relatively lesser comminuting processes acting on individual boulders; the close assemblages of similar appearing boulders (a boulder family) represent the impact destruction of boulders on the surface.