Publications by Neil Bowles


Shape of (101955) Bennu indicative of a rubble pile with internal stiffness

Nature Geoscience Nature Research 12 (2019) 247-252

OS Barnouin, MG Daly, MMA Asad, JH Roberts, ME Perry, HCM Susorney, EB Bierhaus, JA Seabrook, RC Espiritu, AH Nair, L Nguyen, CM Ernst, CD Adam, MC Moreau, CD D'Aubigny, ER Jawin, KJ Walsh, SR Schwartz, R-L Ballouz, N Hirata, N Hirata, S Watanabe, KN Burke, CA Bennett, OSIRIS-REx Team

The shapes of asteroids reflect interplay between their interior properties and the processes responsible for their formation and evolution as they journey through the Solar System. Prior to the OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security–Regolith Explorer) mission, Earth-based radar imaging gave an overview of (101955) Bennu’s shape. Here we construct a high-resolution shape model from OSIRIS-REx images. We find that Bennu’s top-like shape, considerable macroporosity and prominent surface boulders suggest that it is a rubble pile. High-standing, north–south ridges that extend from pole to pole, many long grooves and surface mass wasting indicate some low levels of internal friction and/or cohesion. Our shape model indicates that, similar to other top-shaped asteroids, Bennu formed by reaccumulation and underwent past periods of fast spin, which led to its current shape. Today, Bennu might follow a different evolutionary pathway, with an interior stiffness that permits surface cracking and mass wasting.


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