Asteroid Lutetia – Postcard from the Past


Credits: ESA 2011 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Credits: ESA 2011 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft has revealed asteroid Lutetia to be a primitive body, left over as the planets were forming in our Solar System. Results from Rosetta’s fleeting flyby also suggest that this mini-world tried to grow a metal heart.

Rosetta flew past Lutetia on 10 July 2010 at a speed of 54 000 km/hr and a closest distance of 3170 km. At the time, the 130 km-long asteroid was the largest encountered by a spacecraft. Since then, scientists have been analysing the data taken during the brief encounter.

All previous flybys went past objects, which were fragments of once-larger bodies. However, during the encounter, scientists speculated that Lutetia might be an older, primitive ‘mini-world’.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEMG93HURTG_index_0.html

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