This mosaic synthesizes the best views that NASA’s Dawn spacecraft had of giant asteroid Vesta. Dawn studied Vesta from July 2011 to September 2012. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)
PERTH, Australia (Curtain University PR) — Planetary scientists at Curtin University have shed some light on the tumultuous early days of the largely preserved protoplanet Asteroid 4 Vesta, the second largest asteroid in our Solar System
Research lead Professor Fred Jourdan, from Curtin University’s school of Earth and Planetary Sciences, said Vesta is of tremendous interest to scientists trying to understand more about what planets are made of, and how they evolved.
“Vesta is the only largely intact asteroid which shows complete differentiation with a metallic core, a silicate mantle and a thin basaltic crust, and it’s also very small, with a diameter of only about 525 kilometres,” Professor Jourdan said.
“In a sense it’s like a baby planet, and therefore it is easier for scientists to understand it than say, a fully developed, large, rocky planet.”
To give you an idea of its size, you could squeeze at least three Vesta-size asteroids side by side in the state of New South Wales, Australia.
Vesta was visited by the NASA Dawn spacecraft in ...