News FocusLunar and Planetary Science Conference

A Badly Battered Vesta Awaits Dawn's Arrival

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Science  15 Apr 2011:
Vol. 332, Issue 6027, pp. 303
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6027.303-b

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Planetary scientists are waiting eagerly for July, when the Dawn spacecraft is due to arrive at asteroid Vesta. The asteroid belt's second-most-massive body has had quite a complicated life. It melted early on to form an iron core and rocky mantle and crust, spewed volcanic outpourings, and then suffered a massive impact. Now, a group of impact modelers argued at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference that the object that crashed into Vesta and reshaped its geology was eight times as massive as previously thought.