The cratering history of asteroid (21) Lutetia

Marchi, S.; Massironi, M.; Vincent, J.-B.; Morbidelli, A.; Mottola, S.; Marzari, F.; Küppers, M.; Besse, S.; Thomas, Nicolas; Barbieri, C.; Naletto, G.; Sierks, H. (2012). The cratering history of asteroid (21) Lutetia. Planetary and space science, 66(1), pp. 87-95. Elsevier 10.1016/j.pss.2011.10.010

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The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft passed by the main belt asteroid (21) Lutetia the 10th July 2010. With its ∼ 100 km size, Lutetia is one of the largest asteroids ever imaged by a spacecraft. During the flyby, the on-board OSIRIS imaging system acquired spectacular images of Lutetia’s northern hemisphere revealing a complex surface scarred by numerous impact craters, reaching the maximum dimension of about 55 km.
In this paper, we assess the cratering history of the asteroid. For this purpose, we apply current models describing the formation and evolution of main belt asteroids, that provide the rate and velocity distributions of impactors. These models, coupled with appropriate crater scaling laws, allow us to interpret the observed crater size-frequency distribution (SFD) and constrain the cratering history. Thanks to this approach, we derive the crater retention age of several regions on Lutetia, namely the time lapsed since their formation or global surface reset. We also investigate the influence of various factors -like Lutetia’s bulk structure and crater obliterationon the observed crater SFDs and the estimated surface ages. From our analysis, it emerges that Lutetia underwent a complex collisional evolution, involving major local resurfacing events till recent times. The difference in crater density between the youngest and oldest recognized units implies a difference in age of more than a factor of 10. The youngest unit (Beatica) has an estimated age of tens to hundreds of Myr, while the oldest one (Achaia) formed during a period when the bombardment of asteroids was more intense than the current one, presumably around 3.6 Gyr ago or older.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Thomas, Nicolas


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
500 Science > 530 Physics
600 Technology > 620 Engineering








Katharina Weyeneth-Moser

Date Deposited:

04 Jul 2017 09:31

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 09:31

Publisher DOI:





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