Geological and geophysical constraints on Itokawa’s past spin periods

Hannah C.M. Susorney*, Lydia C. Philpott, Ronald L. Ballouz, Catherine L. Johnson, Benjamin Rozitis, Erica R. Jawin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Itokawa has two distinct terrain types, rough highlands, and smooth lowlands. The lowlands formed by the movement of fine-grained materials from the highlands into topographic lows, covering up large boulders and producing a smooth surface. The topography of asteroids is a function of the shape, interior density, and spin rate. Itokawa, like many near-earth objects, may have experienced changes in its spin period due to YORP. Changes in spin period compared with the current 12.13 h period, may result in changes in the location of topographic lows and thus the concentration of fines in the lows. Under faster spin periods, 8 h or less, the northern topographic low, currently Sagamihara, changes location, but the southern lowland, Muses-Sea, stays in the same location. Above 8 h the topographic lows match the current geographic extent of the fine-grain lowlands. Current estimates of the timescale of regolith migration based on seismic shaking span several orders of magnitude. However, if these can be further refined, the location of the northern lowlands could be used as a constraint on the past spin rates of Itokawa The methods used in this study could be applied to other asteroids and may place an independent constraint on past spin periods.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114265
Number of pages7
Early online date11 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2021


  • Asteroids
  • Topography
  • 25143 Itokawa
  • YORP

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