The Shape and Surface Variation of 2 Pallas from the Hubble Space Telescope

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Science  09 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5950, pp. 275-278
DOI: 10.1126/science.1177734

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We obtained Hubble Space Telescope images of 2 Pallas in September 2007 that reveal distinct color and albedo variations across the surface of this large asteroid. Pallas’s shape is an ellipsoid with radii of 291 (±9), 278 (±9), and 250 (±9) kilometers, implying a density of 2400 (±250) kilograms per cubic meter—a value consistent with a body that formed from water-rich material. Our observations are consistent with the presence of an impact feature, 240 (±25) kilometers in diameter, within Pallas’s ultraviolet-dark terrain. Our observations imply that Pallas is an intact protoplanet that has undergone impact excavation and probable internal alteration.

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