Letter to the Editor
Photometric observations of asteroid 4 Vesta by the OSIRIS cameras onboard the Rosetta spacecraft⋆
LESIA-Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, UPMC Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris-Diderot, 5 place J. Janssen 92195 Meudon Pricipal Cedex France
2 Univ. Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, 4 rue Elsa Morante, 75205 Paris, France
3 Institute of Planetary Research, DLR, Rutherfordstrasse 2, 12489 Berlin, Germany
4 Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Max-Planck-Strasse 2, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany
Received: 30 June 2011
Accepted: 13 August 2011
Aims. We report on new observations of asteroid 4 Vesta obtained on 1 May 2010 with the optical system OSIRIS onboard the ESA Rosetta mission. One lightcurve was taken at a phase angle (52°) larger than achievable from ground-based observations together with a spectrophotometric sequence covering the 260 to 990 nm wavelength range.
Methods. Aperture photometry was used to derive the Vesta flux at several wavelengths. A Fourier analysis and the HG system formalism were applied to derive the Vesta rotational period and characterize its phase function.
Results. We find a G parameter value of 0.27 ± 0.01 and an absolute magnitude H(R) = 2.80 ± 0.01. The lightcurve has the largest amplitude ever reported for Vesta (0.19 ± 0.01 mag), and we derive a synodic rotational period of 5.355 ± 0.025 h. The Rosetta spectrophotometry, covering the Vesta western hemisphere, is in perfect agreement with visible spectra from the literature and close to the IUE observations related to the same hemisphere. The new spectrophotometric data reveal that there is no global ultraviolet/visible reversal on Vesta. The Vesta spectrophotometry is well reproduced by spectra of howardite meteorite powders (grain size < 25 μm). From the Rosetta absolute spectrophotometry and from the phase function behaviour, we estimate a geometric albedo of 0.36 ± 0.02 at 649 nm and 0.34 ± 0.02 at 535 nm.
Key words: minor planets, asteroids: individual: 4 Vesta / techniques: photometric
© ESO, 2011