Signs of Water on Vesta

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has revealed that the giant asteroid Vesta has its own version of a ring around the collar. Two new papers based on observations from the low-altitude mapping orbit of the Dawn mission show that volatile, or easily evaporated materials, have colored Vesta’s surface in a broad swath around its equator. Pothole-like features mark some of the asteroid’s surface where the volatiles, likely water, were released from hydrated minerals being boiled off from ancient meteor impacts. While Dawn did not find actual water ice at Vesta, there are signs of hydrated minerals delivered by meteorites and dust evident in the giant asteroid’s chemistry and geology. The findings appear today in the journal Science.

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