Lutetia Is Rare Survivor from Birth of Earth


Credit:  ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Credit: ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

New observations indicate that the asteroid Lutetia is a leftover fragment of the same original material that formed the Earth, Venus and Mercury. Astronomers have combined data from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, ESO’s New Technology Telescope, and NASA telescopes. They found that the properties of the asteroid closely match those of a rare kind of meteorites found on Earth and thought to have formed in the inner parts of the Solar System. Lutetia must, at some point, have moved out to its current location in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

A team of astronomers from French and North American universities have studied the unusual asteroid Lutetia in detail at a very wide range of wavelengths [1] to deduce its composition. Data from the OSIRIS camera on ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft [2], ESO’s New Technology Telescope (NTT) at the La Silla Observatory in Chile, and NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii and Spitzer Space Telescope were combined to create the most complete spectrum of an asteroid ever assembled [3].

This spectrum of Lutetia was then compared with that of meteorites found on Earth that have been extensively studied in the laboratory. Only one type of meteorite — enstatite chondrites— was found to have properties that matched Lutetia over the full range of colours.

Full Story: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1144/

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