Vesta

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Dawn Mission: Vesta (NASA/JPL)
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Vesta, minor-planet designation 4 Vesta, is one of the largest objects in the asteroid belt, with a mean diameter of 525 kilometres (326 mi). It was discovered by the German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on 29 March 1807 and is named after Vesta, the virgin goddess of home and hearth from Roman mythology.

Vesta is the second-most-massive and second-largest body in the asteroid belt after the dwarf planet Ceres, and it contributes an estimated 9% of the mass of the asteroid belt. Vesta is the only known remaining rocky protoplanet (with a differentiated interior) of the kind that formed the terrestrial planets. Numerous fragments of Vesta were ejected by collisions one and two billion years ago that left two enormous craters occupying much of Vesta’s southern hemisphere. Debris from these events has fallen to Earth as howardite–eucrite–diogenite (HED) meteorites, which have been a rich source of information about Vesta.

Vesta is the brightest asteroid visible from Earth. Its maximum distance from the Sun is slightly greater than the minimum distance of Ceres from the Sun, though its orbit lies entirely within that of Ceres.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around Vesta on 16 July 2011 for a one-year exploration and left orbit on 5 September 2012 en route to its final destination, Ceres. Researchers continue to examine data collected by Dawn for additional insights into the formation and history of Vesta. — Wikipedia

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Phys.org - latest science and technology news stories Phys.org internet news portal provides the latest news on science including: Physics, Nanotechnology, Life Sciences, Space Science, Earth Science, Environment, Health and Medicine.

  • Study of mesosiderite zircons suggests Vesta was...
    on June 11, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    A team of researchers from Australia, Switzerland and Japan has found evidence suggesting that the asteroid Vesta was stuck by a very large rock approximately 4.5 billion years ago. In their paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the group describes their study of the asteroid and what they believe is material from it. […]

  • Stolen comets and free-floating objects
    on May 28, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    Our solar system may contain alien comets that were stolen from another star flying past 4.5 billion years ago. Far away in a distant cluster of young stars, a similar close encounter might have also sent the inter-stellar visitor "Oumuamua" flying on its way toward us, and there must be many more of these free-floating objects in the galaxy. These are results of a new study by astrophysicists at the University of Zurich. […]

  • ESA's Hera asteroid mission borrows eyes of...
    on March 19, 2019 at 11:50 am

    The mission to the smallest asteroid ever explored will employ the same main camera as the mission to the largest asteroids of all. ESA's proposed Hera spacecraft to the Didymos asteroid pair has inherited its main imager from NASA's Dawn mission to the Vesta and Ceres asteroids. […]

  • Video: Big questions about small worlds
    on February 18, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Scientists who study the solar system tend to ask big questions: How was our solar system formed? Where did the building blocks of life come from? What hazards from above threaten life on our planet? To find answers, they're looking more and more at small worlds. […]

  • Catching asteroid 3 Juno at its best
    on November 14, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    Not all oppositions are created equal. This week's sky target offers a good case in point, as asteroid 3 Juno reaches its most favorable viewing position for the decade. […]

  • Cosmic detective work: Why we care about space...
    on November 8, 2018 at 11:16 am

    The entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system's 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us—before life on Earth and before Earth itself—scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past. […]

  • Dawn mission to asteroid belt comes to end
    on November 1, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    NASA's Dawn spacecraft has gone silent, ending a historic mission that studied time capsules from the solar system's earliest chapter. […]

  • Kepler telescope dead after finding thousands of...
    on October 30, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    NASA's elite planet-hunting spacecraft has been declared dead, just a few months shy of its 10th anniversary. […]

  • The coincidence between two overachieving NASA...
    on October 30, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    Two vastly different NASA spacecraft are about to run out of fuel: The Kepler spacecraft, which spent nine years in deep space collecting data that detected thousands of planets orbiting stars outside our solar system; and the Dawn spacecraft, which spent 11 years orbiting and studying the main asteroid belt's two largest objects, Vesta and Ceres. […]

  • Vesta reveals the childhood of the Solar System
    on October 8, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Investigating the earliest and least-known phases of the history of the solar system, when the young sun was still enveloped by a disk of gas and dust in which the planets began to form, is probably one of the most complex challenges in modern planetary science. The existing celestial bodies that formed at the time are few, and in the majority of cases, evidence of the ancient processes that marked the birth of the solar system has been lost. […]