Dawn Sees Hydrated Minerals On Giant Asteroid


View of Cornelia crater on the giant asteroid Vesta shows an example of “pitted terrain,” Image credit: NASA/JPL Caltech /UCLA/MPS /DLR
/IDA /JHUAPL

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has revealed that the giant asteroid Vesta has its own version of ring around the collar. Two new papers based on observations from the low-altitude mapping orbit of the Dawn mission show that volatile, or easily evaporated materials, have colored Vesta’s surface in a broad swath around its equator.

Pothole-like features mark some of the asteroid’s surface where the volatiles, likely water, released from hydrated minerals boiled off. While Dawn did not find actual water ice at Vesta, there are signs of hydrated minerals delivered by meteorites and dust evident in the giant asteroid’s chemistry and geology. The findings appear today in the journal Science.

Vesta is the second most massive member of the main asteroid belt. The orbit at which these data were obtained averaged about 130 miles (210 kilometers) above the surface. Dawn left Vesta earlier this month, on Sept. 4 PDT (Sept. 5 EDT), and is now on its way to its second target, the dwarf planet Ceres.

Full Story:http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-297
Also: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/dawn/news/dawn20120920.html

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