Dawn Spacecraft Reveals Secrets Of Giant Asteroid Vesta | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

Airborne Unlimited -- Recent Daily Episodes

Episode Date

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Airborne On ANN

Airborne 06.27.16

Airborne 06.28.16

Airborne 06.29.16

Airborne 06.30.16

Airborne 07.01.16

Airborne Hi-Def On YouTube

Airborne 06.27.16

Airborne 06.28.16

Airborne 06.29.16

Airborne 06.30.16

Airborne 07.01.16

AEA2016 LIVE Aero-TV: 04/27-0830ET, 04/28-1400ET, 04/29-1100ET

Sun 'n Fun 2016 Innovation Preview on Vimeo!

Sun 'n Fun 2016 Innovation Preview on YouTube!

Wed, May 02, 2012

Dawn Spacecraft Reveals Secrets Of Giant Asteroid Vesta

Details Of The Asteroid's Surface Show Much About Its Life In Space

Findings from NASA's Dawn spacecraft reveal new details about the giant asteroid Vesta, including its varied surface composition, sharp temperature changes and clues to its internal structure. The findings were presented Wednesday at the European Geosciences Union meeting in Vienna, Austria and will help scientists better understand the early solar system and processes that dominated its formation.

Spacecraft images, taken 420 miles (680 kilometers) and 130 miles (210 kilometers) above the surface of the asteroid, show a variety of surface mineral and rock patterns. Coded false-color images help scientists better understand Vesta's composition and enable them to identify material that was once molten below the asteroid's surface.

Researchers also see breccias, which are rocks fused during impacts from space debris. Many of the materials seen by Dawn are composed of iron- and magnesium-rich minerals, which often are found in Earth's volcanic rocks. Images also reveal smooth pond-like deposits, which might have formed as fine dust created during impacts settled into low regions.

"Dawn now enables us to study the variety of rock mixtures making up Vesta's surface in great detail," said Harald Hiesinger, a Dawn participating scientist at Munster University in Germany. "The images suggest an amazing variety of processes that paint Vesta's surface."

At the Tarpeia crater near the south pole of the asteroid, Dawn revealed bands of minerals that appear as brilliant layers on the crater's steep slopes. The exposed layering allows scientists to see farther back into the geological history of the giant asteroid.

The layers closer to the surface bear evidence of contamination from space rocks bombarding Vesta's surface. Layers below preserve more of their original characteristics. Frequent landslides on the slopes of the craters also have revealed other hidden mineral patterns.

"These results from Dawn suggest Vesta's 'skin' is constantly renewing," said Maria Cristina De Sanctis, lead of the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer team based at Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome.

Dawn has given scientists a near 3-D view into Vesta's internal structure. By making ultrasensitive measurements of the asteroid's gravitational tug on the spacecraft, Dawn can detect unusual densities within its outer layers. Data now show an anomalous area near Vesta's south pole, suggesting denser material from a lower layer of Vesta has been exposed by the impact that created a feature called the Rheasilvia basin. The lighter, younger layers coating other parts of Vesta's surface have been blasted away in the basin.

Dawn obtained the highest-resolution surface temperature maps of any asteroid visited by a spacecraft. Data reveal temperatures can vary from as warm as -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius) in the sunniest spots to as cold as -150 degrees Fahrenheit (-100 degrees Celsius) in the shadows. This is the lowest temperature measurable by Dawn. These findings show the surface responds quickly to illumination with no mitigating effect of an atmosphere.

"After more than nine months at Vesta, Dawn's suite of instruments has enabled us to peel back the layers of mystery that have surrounded this giant asteroid since humankind first saw it as just a bright spot in the night sky," said Carol Raymond, Dawn deputy principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "We are closing in on the giant asteroid's secrets."

Launched in 2007, Dawn began its exploration of the approximately 330-mile-wide asteroid in mid-2011. The spacecraft's next assignment will be to study the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015. These two icons of the asteroid belt have been witness to much of our solar system's history. (Images provided by NASA)

FMI: www.nasa.gov/dawn

Advertisement

More News

Airborne 06.30.16: 7000th Citation, C Series Order, John Glenn Honored

Also: Solid Rocket Motor Test, OSH16 Coverage!, Ducted Fan, Welsh Farewell, Blue Origin, Boeing-Farnborough, European TBM 930 Cessna has delivered the first fractional Cessna Citat>[...]

Airborne 06.29.16: SWA Delays Max, McConnell OKs B29-Doc, AAL Trashes Cameras

Also: Flytenow V Supreme Ct, Electric eSpyder, F-35 Adir, IL AirShow, NJ AvTax, FAI Young Artist, Unregistered Airplane To survive in the airline business it is sometimes necessary>[...]

Airborne 06.30.16: 7000th Citation, C Series Order, John Glenn Honored

Also: Solid Rocket Motor Test, OSH16 Coverage!, Ducted Fan, Welsh Farewell, Blue Origin, Boeing-Farnborough, European TBM 930 Cessna has delivered the first fractional Cessna Citat>[...]

ANN's Daily Aero-Linx (07.01.16)

FAA Repair Station Locator Need to find a certified repair station near you? This FAA resource allows you to search by state and type of repair needed to provide you with your opti>[...]

ANN's Daily Aero-Term (07.01.16): Terminal VFR Radar Service

A national program instituted to extend the terminal radar services provided instrument flight rules (IFR) aircraft to visual flight rules (VFR) aircraft.>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2016 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC