The OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System) images acquired during the recent Rosetta fly-by of Lutetia (10th of July 2010), enabled us to unravel the long geological history of the asteroid. This is recorded on its highly varied surface which displays geological units of disparate ages. In particular, using images of the closest approach, five main regions (in turn subdivided into minor units) have been discriminated on the basis of crater density, overlapping and cross-cutting relationships, and presence of linear features (i.e., fractures, faults, grooves, troughs). Other regions, with still unclear stratigraphic position, were also recognized on images of lower resolution on the bases of geomorphological properties such as crater density, relationship with scarp and ridges, and sharp morphological boundaries. In this work the geological evolution of Lutetia surface is reconstructed through the description of its main units and related contacts. The oldest regions imaged during the closest approach (Achaia and Noricum) are pervasively affected by fractures and grooves and display surfaces so heavily cratered to be dated back to a period not far from the Late Heavy Bombardment (yielding Achaia a crater retention age of 3.6-3.7 Ga). A crater of 55 km diameter, named Massilia and corresponding to the Narbonensis region, cuts both Achaia and Noricum regions and probably represents the most prominent event of the Lutetia history. The considerable crater density on its floor and walls, the absence of discernable deposits related to the impact event, and the intense deformation of it floor - all attest to its relatively great age. The North Polar Cluster (Baetica region) is associated with smooth ejecta broadly mantling the surrounding units and displays few craters and no linear features, demonstrating its relatively young age (estimated at less than 300 Ma). The North Polar Crater Cluster is the product of superimposed impacts: the last one of 24 km of diameter excavated the pre-existing ejecta up to the bedrock which locally outcrops at the crater rim. The ejecta of this last impact were involved in several gravitational phenomena testified by the great variety of deposits made up of mega-boulders diamictons, fine materials, gravitational taluses and debris, and landslide accumulations. A part from the big cratering events generating Massilia and the North Polar Crater Cluster, the Lutetia geological history is also punctuated by minor events still recorded by its stratigraphic record well imaged by the closest approach data.
2012. Vol. 66, no 1, 125-136 p.
Asteroid 21 Lutetia, Asteroid geological map, Asteroid evolution, Asteroid stratigraphy