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Weird ‘weathering’ on asteroid Vesta

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The surface of the giant asteroid Vesta is weathering in a way that appears to be completely different from any other asteroid yet visited.

“We thought we understood this pretty well,” says Brown University geologist Carle Pieters, one of the original scientists to study the phenomenon. “That’s space weathering.” Or at least it was until the Dawn spacecraft showed that Vesta, one of the largest bodies in the asteroid belt, weathers in a completely different way.

Using NASA’s Dawn spacecraft’s visible and infrared spectrometer, Pieters and colleagues found that weathered soil on Vesta doesn’t have any of the nanophase metal that characterizes weathered soil on the Moon and some asteroids.

Full story at Futurity.

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Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/PSI/Brown

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