Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Asteroid Vesta Likely Cold & Dark Enough for Ice

The south pole of the giant asteroid Vesta The south pole of the giant asteroid Vesta, as imaged by the framing camera on NASA's Dawn spacecraft in September 2011. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
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January 25, 2012
Though generally thought to be quite dry, roughly half of the giant asteroid Vesta is expected to be so cold and to receive so little sunlight that water ice could have survived there for billions of years, according to the first published models of Vesta's average global temperatures and illumination by the sun.

"Near the north and south poles, the conditions appear to be favorable for water ice to exist beneath the surface," says Timothy Stubbs of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Stubbs and Yongli Wang of the Goddard Planetary Heliophysics Institute at the University of Maryland published the models in the January 2012 issue of the journal Icarus. The models are based on information from telescopes including NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

 
MORE: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-024&cid=release_2012-024&msource=2012024&tr=y&auid=10190118

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