An asteroid mystery

25 January 2013

At … we learn that the recently visited asteroid Vesta might have had a very active inner life (but early in the history of the solar system). This is derived from a meteorite found in the Sahara desert and linked to the asteroid by their comparable chemical and isotopic signatures. The space rock had similarities in structure to igneous rocks found on Earth – and does that mean it was igneous on Vesta? The supposition is that igneous intrusions, or magma, probably were a feature of Vesta at some point in the past – but did it have a liquid magma centre. The next target of the Dawn spacecraft is the dwarf planet, Ceres (an even bigger asteroid).

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