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Space & Astronomy

Evidence of flowing water found on Vesta

January 26, 2015 | Comment icon 14 comments



Dawn spent two years investigating Vesta. Image Credit: NASA / JPL
Scientists have discovered indications that liquid water was once present on the asteroid's surface.
Visited by NASA's Dawn spacecraft back in 2011, Vesta is the second largest known asteroid in the solar system.

Conventional thinking would seem to rule out the possibility that water could flow on the surface of such an object, but now scientists looking over photographs and data recorded during the mission have identified physical signs of short-lived flows of water-mobilized material within some of its craters.

"Nobody expected to find evidence of water on Vesta," said study co-author Jennifer Scully. "The surface is very cold and there is no atmosphere, so any water on the surface evaporates."
While the find doesn't indicate that Vesta was home to whole rivers of flowing water, the discovery does suggest that enough water was present to cause the sand and dust to move.

The find could have huge implications in the field of planetary science and means that some of the processes thought to occur only on planets can in fact take place on asteroids as well.

The team behind the Dawn mission are now keen to discover whether traces of these same processes will be found on Ceres when the probe arrives there in March.

Source: Red Orbit | Comments (14)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by Twin 8 years ago
I guess I'm confused. So, now asteroids are dirty snowballs and comets are rocky bodies?
Comment icon #6 Posted by SolarPlexus 8 years ago
******* awesome.. water everywhere
Comment icon #7 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
Maybe the landslide happened almost immediately after the crater was created? An ice pocket with a small entrance we can't see, melted and flowed down the side and caused the landslide. There is gravity there so the water still would have flowed downhill.
Comment icon #8 Posted by danielost 8 years ago
if there was water flowing there, it would have to have been enough to flow before it evaporated. kind a like the problem they had at disneyland. the first time they released 100,000 gallions of water to make the river. they made a small mistake and none of the water reached the end of the river. that mistake was they had not put any soil in the river bed, it was all sand.
Comment icon #9 Posted by highdesert50 8 years ago
Interesting that there are rather large stores of water being identified. If one considers water as a byproduct of star formation, it would seem that water must have been in sufficient abundance to have such a significant effect in the formation of a planet size objects.
Comment icon #10 Posted by danielost 8 years ago
Interesting that there are rather large stores of water being identified. If one considers water as a byproduct of star formation, it would seem that water must have been in sufficient abundance to have such a significant effect in the formation of a planet size objects. according to my info. a star needs a certain amount of water to form. too little and it gets to hot. too much and it doesn't get hot enough.
Comment icon #11 Posted by bee 8 years ago
Maybe Vesta wasn't always an asteroid. that's what I was thinking - maybe it is a chunk of a planet - a planet that broke up or got smashed up..? .
Comment icon #12 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
according to my info. a star needs a certain amount of water to form. too little and it gets to hot. too much and it doesn't get hot enough. Ummmm.... I don't think so. A star is mainly hydrogen to start with. It is mainly the size and age of a star that determines how hot it is. At least as far as I know.
Comment icon #13 Posted by danielost 8 years ago
Ummmm.... I don't think so. A star is mainly hydrogen to start with. It is mainly the size and age of a star that determines how hot it is. At least as far as I know. http://wis-wander.weizmann.ac.il/water-enables-star-formation#.VMgukWjF9Co To resolve this paradox, scientists have postulated the existence of a water-based "cooling system" that regulates the temperature of interstellar clouds, enabling the contraction to continue. Now a Weizmann Institute study reported in Physical Review Letters provides experimental evidence that the billions of stars that populate our firmament indeed had a... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
http://wis-wander.we...on#.VMgukWjF9Co To resolve this paradox, scientists have postulated the existence of a water-based "cooling system" that regulates the temperature of interstellar clouds, enabling the contraction to continue. Now a Weizmann Institute study reported in Physical Review Letters provides experimental evidence that the billions of stars that populate our firmament indeed had a watery birth. That is pretty interesting. I wonder if in the last 20 years with better space based telescopes if their hypothesis has been confirmed?


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