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Shape modeling technique KOALA validated by ESA Rosetta at (21) Lutetia

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We present a comparison of our results from ground-based observations of asteroid (21) Lutetia with imaging data acquired during the flyby of the asteroid by the ESA Rosetta mission. This flyby provided a unique opportunity to evaluate and calibrate our method of determination of size, 3-D shape, and spin of an asteroid from ground-based observations. We present our 3-D shape-modeling technique KOALA which is based on multi-dataset inversion. We compare the results we obtained with KOALA, prior to the flyby, on asteroid (21) Lutetia with the high-spatial resolution images of the asteroid taken with the OSIRIS camera on-board the ESA Rosetta spacecraft, during its encounter with Lutetia. The spin axis determined with KOALA was found to be accurate to within two degrees, while the KOALA diameter determinations were within 2% of the Rosetta-derived values. The 3-D shape of the KOALA model is also confirmed by the spectacular visual agreement between both 3-D shape models (KOALA pre- and OSIRIS post-flyby). We found a typical deviation of only 2 km at local scales between the profiles from KOALA predictions and OSIRIS images, resulting in a volume uncertainty provided by KOALA better than 10%. Radiometric techniques for the interpretation of thermal infrared data also benefit greatly from the KOALA shape model: the absolute size and geometric albedo can be derived with high accuracy, and thermal properties, for example the thermal inertia, can be determined unambiguously. We consider this to be a validation of the KOALA method. Because space exploration will remain limited to only a few objects, KOALA stands as a powerful technique to study a much larger set of small bodies using Earth-based observations.

Dates and versions

hal-00685136 , version 1 (04-04-2012)



Benoît Carry, Mikko Kaasalainen, William J. Merline, Thomas G. Müller, Laurent Jorda, et al.. Shape modeling technique KOALA validated by ESA Rosetta at (21) Lutetia. 2011. ⟨hal-00685136⟩
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