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.

  • 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. […]

  • Legacy of NASA's dawn, near the end of its mission
    on September 10, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    NASA's Dawn mission is drawing to a close after 11 years of breaking new ground in planetary science, gathering breathtaking imagery, and performing unprecedented feats of spacecraft engineering. […]

  • Image: Bright spots on Ceres
    on September 10, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Bright surface features on the dwarf planet Ceres known as faculae were first discovered by NASA's Dawn spacecraft in 2015. This mosaic of one such feature, Cerealia Facula, combines images obtained from altitudes as low as 22 miles (35 km) above Ceres' surface. The mosaic is overlain on a topography model based on images obtained during Dawn's low altitude mapping orbit (240 miles or 385 km altitude). No vertical exaggeration was applied. The center of Cerealia Facula is located […]

  • The legacy of NASA's Dawn, near end of mission
    on September 10, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    NASA's Dawn mission is drawing to a close after 11 years of breaking new ground in planetary science, gathering breathtaking imagery, and performing unprecedented feats of spacecraft engineering. […]

  • What looks like Ceres on Earth?
    on July 26, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    With its dark, heavily cratered surface interrupted by tantalizing bright spots, Ceres may not remind you of our home planet Earth at first glance. The dwarf planet, which orbits the Sun in the vast asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is also far smaller than Earth (in both mass and diameter). With its frigid temperature and lack of atmosphere, we're pretty sure Ceres can't support life as we know it. […]

  • Martian moons model indicates formation following...
    on April 18, 2018 at 6:00 pm

    Southwest Research Institute scientists posit a violent birth of the tiny Martian moons Phobos and Deimos, but on a much smaller scale than the giant impact thought to have resulted in the Earth-Moon system. Their work shows that an impact between proto-Mars and a dwarf-planet-sized object likely produced the two moons, as detailed in a paper published today in Science Advances. […]

  • New theory to explain why planets in our solar...
    on March 22, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    A team of researchers with the University of Copenhagen and the Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz-Institut für Evolutions has come up with a new explanation regarding the difference in composition of the planets in our solar system. In their paper published in the journal Nature, they describe their study of the calcium-isotope composition of certain meteorites, Earth itself, and Mars, and use what they learned to explain how the planets could be so different. Alessandro Morbidelli with […]

  • Meteorites brought water to Earth during the...
    on January 18, 2018 at 11:33 am

    A new study of a rare basaltic meteorites called angrites suggests that volatiles, which are elements with relatively low boiling points such as water, could have been brought to our planet by meteorites during the first two million years of the solar system. […]

  • Meteorite's origins point to possible...
    on November 16, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    A new analysis of a meteorite called Bunburra Rockhole has revealed that the rock originated from a previously unknown parent asteroid, allowing scientists to understand the geology of the parent body. […]

  • Dawn mission extended at Ceres
    on October 20, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    NASA has authorized a second extension of the Dawn mission at Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before at the dwarf planet, which it has been orbiting since March 2015. The spacecraft will continue at Ceres for the remainder of its science investigation and will remain in a stable orbit indefinitely after its hydrazine fuel runs out. […]