LABORATORY STUDIES OF ICY REGOLITHS IN RELATION TO OBSERVATIONS OF MINOR BODIES IN THE OUTER SOLAR SYSTEM


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Abstract

Observing the properties of solar light scattered by TNOs is (up to now) the only way to obtain information on the physical properties of their surfaces. As such observations, performed near backscattering, become available, it is important to stress the significance of the phase angle and wavelength dependences of the linear polarization of the scattered light. At small phase angles, a narrow spike in brightness and a significantly negative polarization could be typical of icy regoliths, actually expected to be formed by alteration of icy bodies surfaces. Accurate experimental simulations of icy aggregates and regoliths formation that should take place with the ICAPS facility on board the ISS are presented, with emphasis on light scattering measurements providing a link between remote observations of TNOs and physical properties of their surfaces.

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