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Spectroscopic Characterization of Mineralogy and Its Diversity Across Vesta

Science  11 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6082, pp. 697-700
DOI: 10.1126/science.1219270

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Abstract

The mineralogy of Vesta, based on data obtained by the Dawn spacecraft’s visible and infrared spectrometer, is consistent with howardite-eucrite-diogenite meteorites. There are considerable regional and local variations across the asteroid: Spectrally distinct regions include the south-polar Rheasilvia basin, which displays a higher diogenitic component, and equatorial regions, which show a higher eucritic component. The lithologic distribution indicates a deeper diogenitic crust, exposed after excavation by the impact that formed Rheasilvia, and an upper eucritic crust. Evidence for mineralogical stratigraphic layering is observed on crater walls and in ejecta. This is broadly consistent with magma-ocean models, but spectral variability highlights local variations, which suggests that the crust can be a complex assemblage of eucritic basalts and pyroxene cumulates. Overall, Vesta mineralogy indicates a complex magmatic evolution that led to a differentiated crust and mantle.

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