Complex Water Ice Mixtures on NII Nereid: Constraints from NIR Reflectance

By Keith Cowing
June 23, 2021
Filed under
Complex Water Ice Mixtures on NII Nereid: Constraints from NIR Reflectance

Nereid, Neptune’s third largest satellite, lies in an irregular orbit and is the only outer satellite in the system (apart from Triton) that can be spectroscopically characterized with the current generation of Earth-based telescopes.

We report our results on spectral characterization of Nereid using its reflectance spectrum from 0.8-2.4 μm, providing the first measurements over the range of 0.8-1.4 μm. We detect spectral absorption features of crystalline water ice in close agreement with previous measurements.

We show that model fits of simple intimate mixtures including water ice do not provide simultaneous matches to absorption band depths at 1.5 and 2.0 μm when accounting for the spectral continuum. Possible solutions include invoking a more complex continuum, including both crystalline and amorphous water ice, and allowing for sub-micron sized grains.

We show that mixtures including magnetite and the CM2 chondrite Murchison provide a flexible framework for interpreting spectral variation of bodies with neutral-sloped spectra like that of Nereid. Magnetite in particular provides a good match to the spectral continuum without requiring the presence of Tholin-like organics. We note that carbonaceous chondrites and their components may be useful analogs for the non-ice components of outer solar system bodies, consistent with recent findings by Fraser et al. (2019).

Comparison to spectra of large TNOs and satellites of Uranus show that Nereid’s low albedo, deep water bands, and neutral color is distinct from many other icy objects, but such comparisons are limited by incomplete understanding of spectral variability among ∼100km-sized icy bodies.

Benjamin N. L. Sharkey, Vishnu Reddy, Juan A. Sanchez, Matthew R. M. Izawa, Walter M. Harris

Comments: 11 pages, 2 tables, 7 figures, accepted in PSJ
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2106.12084 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2106.12084v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Benjamin Sharkey
[v1] Tue, 22 Jun 2021 22:31:32 UTC (834 KB)

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.