Hold On To Your Volatiles – Modeling Evolution And Composition Of Small Icy Bodies

The outer Solar System hosts a vast population of small bodies, considered to be primitive remnants from the planet formation epoch. The nature of these icy-rocky bodies is one of the central themes in planetary science, as it addresses questions regarding the initial stages, conditions, and processes involved in solar system formation, and the sources of organic and volatile material to the planets. Moreover, with the on-going development of observing techniques and instruments, we see potential analogs to our own diverse population of minor bodies littering other circum-stellar systems.

In my talk I will introduce the volatile-rich population of small solar system bodies (comets, Centaurs, Kuiper belt objects and some asteroids) and present several modeling approaches to their evolution. I will show several results regarding longevity of stratified structures, potential surface modifications and bulk retention of volatile and organic compounds.

The results of these modeling efforts refer to the thermal, physical and chemical evolution of the bulk body, its surface composition, and dynamical effects of orbital variation and mutual collisions. I will conclude with potential integration of the described research with recent and future space missions (e.g., Rosetta, New Horizons, Dawn).