NASA'S Dawn Sees New Surface Features On 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 04.20.15

Airborne 04.21.15

Airborne 04.22.15

Airborne 04.23.15

Airborne 04.24.15

Airborne Hi-Def On YouTube

Airborne 04.20.15

Airborne 04.21.15

Airborne 04.22.15

Airborne 04.23.15

Airborne 04.24.15

Sun, Mar 25, 2012

NASA'S Dawn Sees New Surface Features On Giant Asteroid Vesta

Reveals Unusual Geologic Features Never Before Seen On An Asteroid

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has revealed unexpected details on the surface of the giant asteroid Vesta. New images and data highlight the diversity of Vesta's surface and reveal unusual geologic features, some of which were never previously seen on asteroids.

Vesta is one of the brightest objects in the solar system and the only asteroid in the so-called main belt between Mars and Jupiter visible to the naked eye from Earth. Dawn found that some areas on Vesta can be nearly twice as bright as others, revealing clues about the asteroid's history. "Our analysis finds this bright material originates from Vesta and has undergone little change since the formation of Vesta over 4 billion years ago," said Jian-Yang Li, a Dawn participating scientist at the University of Maryland, College Park. "We're eager to learn more about what minerals make up this material and how the present Vesta surface came to be."

Bright areas appear everywhere on Vesta but are most predominant in and around craters. The areas vary from several hundred feet to around 10 miles across. Rocks crashing into the surface of Vesta seem to have exposed and spread this bright material. This impact process may have mixed the bright material with darker surface material.

While scientists had seen some brightness variations in previous images of Vesta from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, Dawn scientists also did not expect such a wide variety of distinct dark deposits across its surface. The dark materials on Vesta can appear dark gray, brown and red. They sometimes appear as small, well-defined deposits around impact craters. They also can appear as larger regional deposits, like those surrounding the impact craters scientists have nicknamed the "snowman."

"One of the surprises was the dark material is not randomly distributed," said David Williams, a Dawn participating scientist at Arizona State University, Tempe. "This suggests underlying geology determines where it occurs."

The dark materials seem to be related to impacts and their aftermath. Scientists theorize carbon-rich asteroids could have hit Vesta at speeds low enough to produce some of the smaller deposits without blasting away the surface.

Higher-speed asteroids also could have hit the asteroid's surface and melted the volcanic basaltic crust, darkening existing surface material. That melted conglomeration appears in the walls and floors of impact craters, on hills and ridges, and underneath brighter, more recent material called ejecta, which is material thrown out from a space rock impact. Vesta's dark materials suggest the giant asteroid may preserve ancient materials from the asteroid belt and beyond, possibly from the birth of the solar system. "Some of these past collisions were so intense they melted the surface," said Brett Denevi, a Dawn participating scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. "Dawn's ability to image the melt marks a unique find. Melting events like these were suspected, but never before seen on an asteroid." (Images provided by NASA)

FMI: www.nasa.gov/dawn

Advertisement

More News

Airborne 04.24.15: DA62 Cert, Flt Design's C4, Sporty Transitions, 1st Flt Fight

Also: Legend Cub, Piper Orders, Postal UAVs?, IMC Club 'Brown Jacket Award', X-47B Refueling The Diamond DA62 has received its EASA Type certificate. After a sunny and warm day Wed>[...]

Airborne 04.23.15: Able Flight, Diesel Archer, RutanRC!

Also: United Bars Security Expert, Airborne Advisors, NTSB Video, Avidyne, Cessna, Airport Access Tempest Plus Marketing Group has announced support for Able Flight as a Platinum L>[...]

Aspen Avionics, True Innovators, Present SnF2015 Special Event Coverage!

SnF2015 Sponsor: Always-Innovative Aspen Avionics Aspen Avionics specializes in bringing the most advanced technology and capability into general aviation cockpits. Our products in>[...]

Amazing Amphib! Lakeland 2015 Sponsor Progressive Aerodyne Goes EVERYWHERE

Progressive Aerodyne Does it All -- Land, Sea and Sky! Explore 'no limits' living in the newly FAA certified Searey Elite Amphibious Light Sport Airplane. This distinctive aircraft>[...]

ANN's Daily Aero-Linx (04.26.15)

Aerospace Web Aerospaceweb.org is a non-profit site operated by engineers and scientists in the aerospace field. The goal of this site is to provide educational information on a va>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2015 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC