Nature Hot Topic

A Dawn view of Vesta

Between 16 July 2011 and 5 September 2012, NASA’s space probe Dawn was orbiting Vesta, a protoplanet thought to have survived virtually intact since an early phase of Solar System formation. In this issue of Nature, two groups report on the encounter. Carle Pieters and co-workers find that space weathering on Vesta has followed a different course from that observed on the Moon and on Itokawa, the asteroid sampled in an Earth-return mission. On Vesta, weathering involved fine-scale regolith (soil) mixing that has removed clear traces of recent impact deposits. There are no signs of the nanophase metallic-particle deposits seen on the Moon and Itokawa. Thomas McCord and co-authors describe two main types of material on Vesta’s surface: bright and dark. The bright material may be uncontaminated indigenous Vesta basaltic soil, with the darker material derived from low-albedo impactors. Dawn has now moved on and is due to rendezvous with the protoplanet Ceres in February 2015.

Nature Volume 491 Issue 7422

Top Ten Highlights

Sign up for Nature Research e-alerts to get the lastest research in your inbox every week.

More Hot Topics

PrivacyMark System