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5 - Geomorphology of Vesta

from Part II - Key Results from Dawn’s Exploration of Vesta and Ceres

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2022

Simone Marchi
Affiliation:
Southwest Research Institute, Boulder, Colorado
Carol A. Raymond
Affiliation:
California Institute of Technology
Christopher T. Russell
Affiliation:
University of California, Los Angeles
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Summary

A search for volcanic and plutonic features on Vesta was an important driver for a geomorphological examination of the asteroid. Another goal was to determine if the asteroid was a protoplanet, one of the remnants of the material that formed the Solar System. Therefore, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft collected imaging, spectroscopic, and elemental abundance data, which were utilized to examine the asteroid’s surface. A digital terrain model was created and the asteroid’s various geomorphic features were analyzed. Large scale features include the Rheasilvia and Veneneia impact basins, the Divalia Fossae and Saturnalia Fossae trough sets, and the Vestalia Terra plateau. Small scale features include deposits of dark material, pitted terrain, pit crater chains, mass-wasting deposits, and impact craters. While these geomorphic analyses revealed no evidence of volcanism, evidence of magmatic activity on Vesta was identified. In addition, analysis of Vesta’s geomorphology suggests that it is not only a protoplanet, but also an intermediate body between asteroids and planets.

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Vesta and Ceres
Insights from the Dawn Mission for the Origin of the Solar System
, pp. 67 - 80
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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