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'Dawn' breaks discovery of double crater on Vesta, says NASA

Asteroid Mission


This Jan. 5, 2012 image provided by NASA shows bright and dark material at the rim of the Marcia crater on the Vesta asteroid, taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The lighter areas of the crater's edge is causing high interest and speculation by NASA scientists.

The NASA Dawn spacecraft mission has made some surprising discoveries about the asteroid Vesta, the parent body of an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Carol Raymond, with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told KPCC that the data Dawn gathers could help scientists better understand how Earth and other planets emerged.

"Vesta’s history appears to be more similar to rocky terrestrial planets -  Mars, Mercury, and the Earth’s moon - than to its larger sibling Ceres, which will be the second target of the Dawn mission," says Raymond.

Scientists say cosmic collisions, likely with a smaller asteroids, are to blame for Vesta's scars. High-resolution images have revealed, however, that two massive overlapping craters are creating the huge depression (the southern hemisphere depressions were first seen the Hubble Space Telescope).