In this image from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, bright material extends out from the crater Canuleia on Vesta. The bright material appears to have been thrown out of the crater during the impact that created it. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/UMD › Full image and caption › Image gallery
PASADENA, Calif. – 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.
These results were discussed today at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference at The Woodlands, Texas.
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 has 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.”