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Shockwaves from the Rheasilvia Impact

30 Oct 2013, 10:00 UTC
Shockwaves from the Rheasilvia Impact NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI
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Vesta is one of the largest asteroids in the Solar System, measuring 573 km by 557 km by 446 km in size. It is a member of the main asteroid belt and it circles the Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. From July 2011 to September 2012, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was in orbit around Vesta and the spacecraft conducted numerous observations of this large asteroid. Centred on the south pole of Vesta is a large impact feature known as the Rheasilvia basin. The basin has a depth of ~20 km and a diameter of ~500 km, nearly as large as Vesta itself. Figure 1: This topographic map from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows the two large impact basins in the southern hemisphere of Vesta. The map is colour-coded by elevation, with red showing the higher areas and blue showing the lower areas. Rheasilvia, the largest impact basin on Vesta, is ~500 km in diameter. It is estimated to have formed no more than ~1 billion years ago by counting the number of smaller craters that have formed on top of it. The other basin, Veneneia, is ~400 km in diameter and it lies partially beneath Rheasilvia. Veneneia is estimated ...

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