The large crater on the small Asteroid (2867) Steins

Burchell, M.J., Leliwa-Kopystynski, J.


210(2), 2010, 707-712, 10.1016/j.icarus.2010.07.026

The maximum size of impact craters on finite bodies marks the largest impact that can occur short of impact induced disruption of the body. Recently attention has started to focus on large craters on small bodies such as asteroids and rocky and icy satellites. Here the large crater on the recently imaged Asteroid (2867) Steins (with crater diameter to mean asteroid radius ratio of 0.79) is shown to follow a limit set by other similar sized bodies with moderate macroporosity (i.e. fractured asteroids). Thus whilst large, the crater size is not novel, nor does it require Steins to possess an extremely large porosity. In one of the components of the binary Asteroid (90) Antiope there is the recently reported presence of an extremely large depression, possibly a crater, with depression diameter to mean asteroid radius ratio of ∼(1.4–1.62). This is consistent with the maximum size of a crater expected from previous observations of very porous rocky bodies (i.e. rubble-pile asteroids). Finally, a relationship between crater diameter (normalised to body radius) is proposed as a function of body porosity which suggests that the doubling of porosity between fractured asteroids and rubble-pile asteroids, nearly doubles the size (D/R value) of the largest crater sustainable on a rocky body.