New Planet Asteroid Vesta

Posted by Zotta Rendevouz

New Planet Asteroid Vesta
New landscapes of the significant asteroid Vesta disclose it is more like a world than an asteroid, experts said Friday.

Since dropping into orbit around Vesta in September, NASA’s Beginning spacecraft has beamed again gorgeous pictures of the second greatest subject living in the asteroid gear.

Vesta’s rugged surface is unique compared to the solar system’s much smaller and lightweight asteroids. Impact craters dot Vesta’s surface along with grooves, troughs and a variety of minerals.

“Vesta is unlike any other asteroid,” said mission co-scientist Vishnu Reddy of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany. The new findings were presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Most asteroids resemble potatoes, but Vesta is more like an avocado with its iron core, Reddy said.

Asteroids are remnants from the birth of the solar system some 4.5 billion years ago around the same time as the formation of the rocky planets including Earth. Studying asteroids can offer clues about how our planetary system began.

Instead of returning to the moon, NASA has decided to land astronauts on a yet-to-be determined asteroid as a stepping stone to Mars.

David Williams of Arizona State University considers Vesta a “transitional body” between rocky planets and the thousands of asteroids floating between Mars and Jupiter.

The mission has yielded a mystery. Before Dawn arrived at Vesta, scientists predicted that the surface would harbor a volcano. There’s a hill on Vesta, but researchers said there’s no evidence of lava flow or volcanic deposits.

Williams said it’s possible the volcanic materials are buried, so the team will keep looking.

Powered by ion propulsion instead of conventional rocket fuel, Dawn will study Vesta for several more months before cruising to an even bigger asteroid, Ceres, where it will arrive in 2015.