Vesta: Giant Impacts Delivered Carbon


Most of the dark, carbonaceous material on Vesta can be found on the rims of smaller craters. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Most of the dark, carbonaceous material on Vesta can be found on the rims of smaller craters. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

The protoplanet Vesta has been witness to an eventful past: images taken by the framing camera onboard NASA’s space probe Dawn show two enormous craters in the southern hemisphere. The images were obtained during Dawn’s year-long visit to Vesta that ended in September 2012. These huge impacts not only altered Vesta’s shape, but also its surface composition. Scientists under the lead of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany have shown that impacting small asteroids delivered dark, carbonaceous material to the protoplanet. In the early days of our solar system, similar events may have provided the inner planets such as Earth with carbon, an essential building block for organic molecules. These results were published in the November-December issue of the journal Icarus.

Full Story: http://www.dawn.mps.mpg.de/index.php?id=17&L=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=172&cHash=fb71c4cb2dd3810fdc8752db4e4dcf3e

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