CLASS Seminar

Title: OSIRIS-REx mission: detailed color-ratio maps of the surface of a primitive asteroid using the OCAMS camera suite.


Monday: November 20, 2017




Abstract: OSIRIS-REx is a NASA mission launched in 2016 that will visit asteroid Bennu. It will characterize Bennu during 2018-2020, collect a sample from the surface and bring to Earth for detailed study in 2023. Bennu is one of the primitive near-Earth asteroids most accessible to spacecraft and is also one of the most “potentially hazardous asteroids” (PHAs). We are part of OSIRIS-REx’s Science Team, more specifically the Image Processing Working Group (IPWG). Our responsibilities within the IPWG include the production and analysis of color-ratio maps using OCAMS images taken in 4 filters (b, v, x, and w, centered at 0.44, 0.55, 0.70, and 0.85 µm, respectively). These images will allow studies of the geographical distribution of the absorption at 700nm produced by hydrated minerals, and help to select the sampling-site. The presence of hydrated minerals is essential to assess the abundance of water.

In this talk I will summarize the main aspects of the mission, present the planned science to be done with the color-ratio maps, and the results we already obtained on images of asteroids Eros and Ceres with the NEAR-Shoemaker and Dawn missions respectively, in preparation for the OSIRIS-REx encounter with Bennu.


Biography: Dr. Licandro is a Staff senior researcher of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) since 2014, with more than 160 papers published in peer reviewed international magazines. Licandro is the PI of the IAC’s Solar System research group since 2004 and collaborator member of the Science Team of the NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission since 2011. He is also a co-investigator of the Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science (CLASS) funded by NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI)

Dr. Licandro worked as a support astronomer at the 3.56m Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (La Palma, Spain) in 2000, and at the Isaac Newton Group (La Palma, Spain) in 2002. At the IAC, he had a postdoctoral Ramon y Cajal appointment in 2008, and a Severo Ochoa postdoctoral appointment in 2013.

Dr. Licandro’s research area is the physical properties of small bodies of the Solar System. He has a strong expertize in imaging and spectroscopy in a wide range of wavelengths from visible to thermal infrared of near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), main belt asteroids, comets, main belt comets, asteroids in cometary orbits and trans-Neptunian objects. He has also experience in the use of scattering models to analyze spectra and study the surface composition of atmosphereless objects and thermal models to study their thermal properties.

Dr. Licandro most relevant contributions include: (1) The discovery that trans-Neptunian object (TNO) Makemake’s surface is very similar to that of Pluto, and the further study of the surface properties of large TNOs, (2) The discovery of water-ice and solid organics on the surface of asteroids (24) Themis and (66) Cybele and its further study of the spectroscopic and thermal properties of asteroids in the outer main belt, (3) The physical (spectroscopic and albedo) characterization of asteroids in cometary orbits (ACOs) showing that they are very similar to that of comet nuclei suggesting that this is a population of “dormant” comets”.