Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Space Studies

First Advisor

Mike J. Gaffey


The L-chondrite meteorites are the most abundant meteorites falling to Earth. Identifying a parent body for them has been an important goal of asteroid science for more than thirty years. A link between the two could help to decipher the history of thermal regimes and evolutionary processes that occurred in the early solar system. A plausible or probable parent body can be identified based on two main criteria. A plausible body will either be located favorably to deliver the relevant amounts of meteoroids to the Earth, or will possess a surface mineralogy compatible with that of the L-chondrite meteorites. A probable parent body will meet both criteria (Gaffey, 2011).

Based on research performed on fossil L-chondrite meteorites, and dynamical modeling of various resonances and asteroid families, the Gefion family has been hypothesized as a plausible source of the L-chondrite meteorites. It is favorably located within the asteroid belt for delivery of fragments to Earth, so in an effort to test the possibility that this family is a probable parent to these meteorites, this study used near-infrared spectral data gathered with the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) to characterize the mineralogy of two asteroids of the Gefion Family.

Although not solidly proven to be L-chondrites, both asteroids are grossly consistent with the mineralogy of this type of meteorite. Taking error into

account, whether human, meteorological, or instrumental, both asteroids can reasonably be considered to fall within the L-chondrite realm. More spectra of these and other Gefion asteroids are needed to come to a valid conclusion regarding the family as a source for these meteorites, but at this point the hypothesis is still a viable one.