Fine-regolith production on asteroids controlled by rock porosity

Speaker: Saverio Cambioni, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Location: Zoom (

Meeting ID: 833 2852 3296

Passcode: ganymede

Abstract: Asteroids hold clues to the formation of the solar system, as evidenced by meteorites
and collected samples. Through the years, spacecraft missions have observed that asteroids with
high-porosity rocks (low material density compared to their meteorite type) lack areas covered
in sub-centimeter rock fragments, while such terrains seem common on asteroids with lowerporosity
rocks. In this talk, I will present how the porosity of constituent rocks plays a central
role in driving this diversity of asteroids’ surfaces (Cambioni et al. 2021, The geology of asteroids is a complex
interplay between their low gravity and the mechanical properties of their rocks in competent
and granular form. We explain the spacecraft observations by demonstrating that higherporosity
rocks comminute less efficiently through impacts and thermal fatigue than do lowerporosity
rocks. The discovery of this phenomenon, which influences the geology of asteroids
and our capability to sample their surfaces, was made possible by machine learning. I will also
present more generally on how machine learning works and outline how machine learning is
changing the way we do planetary science.

04/05/2022 - 16:00
Saverio Cambioni