Monday, October 17, 2011

Dawn Provides Us With The First Official Information from Vesta

After the new "multimedia" was brought in in September, Dawn has yet brought back something else, and this time it's scientifical. Not to say that astronomical imagining is not scientific, Dawn has brought back information that proves scientifics, concerning the composition of Vesta, and topographical issues that have seen. At the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota, astronomers brought forth their newly found evidence, here are some excerpts of what commenced and what comprised  the meeting:

"Dawn, which has been orbiting Vesta since mid-July, has found that the asteroid's southern hemisphere boasts one of the largest mountains in the solar system. Other findings show that Vesta's surface, viewed by Dawn at different wavelengths, has striking diversity in its composition, particularly around craters. Science findings also include an in-depth analysis of a set of equatorial troughs on Vesta and a closer look at the object's intriguing craters. The surface appears to be much rougher than most asteroids in the main asteroid belt..."

(The above quote was taken from JPL, a NASA affiliate, respectively). But astronomers do not know how these features on the surface of Vesta, formed. Yet, they presume some topographical information was caused by a massive impact, although not entirely sure yet.

The mission's principle investigator, Christopher Russell (University of California in Los Angeles), announced much at the meeting, including edits to previously held data. For example, "Russell said that the team has recalculated the rotational axis of the asteroid since Dawn’s arrival. Establishing a reliable coordinate system is essential for mapping Vesta’s many features, but the old coordinate system was 10° of," Sky&Telescope writes. Near the south pole of the planet, a giant basin lies now named "Rheasilvia," in tribute to the mother of Romulus and Remus This name is quite appropriate, for Vesta, in Roman mythology, is the goddess of the home, in that Rheasiliva was the leader of the Vestal virgins, those who worshiped that particular goddess. Sky&Telescope announces that "other features on Vesta will be named after related mythological characters," respectively.

Much of the southern hemisphere, including Rehasilva crater.

Other members of the team also did their share in discoveries. Carol Raymond (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Dawn’s deputy principle investigator, has shown us a topographic map of Vesta, color-coded for different heights, near Rheasilvia. She's also helped us note the areas of different crater impacts, noting that "Vesta [has a] heavily cratered northern hemisphere and smoother areas in the south[ern hemisphere], the two halves separated by a set of grooves that gird the equator," Sky&Telescope writes. Hopefully, further study will help fill in unknown information. Andreas Nathues (Max Planck Institute, Germany) has shown us other color-coded topographical maps that notes craters and what they're comprised of. He suggests that, in the false-colored image, there "might be loosely packed material excavated during a low-angle impact," of a crater (from Sky&Telescope).

Shape model of southern hemisphere of Vesta showing complex structures, including the large south polar mountain, sinuous grooves, steep scarps and slumps.
Craters on Vesta shown in false color (left image) and clear filter (right image) of the FC. A color feature associated with the ejecta south of the main crater is one of the most prominent color features on Vesta’s surface


You can read much more at these links about Dawn & Vesta: 

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