Getting closer to Vesta


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The Dawn mission team released another image today of the giant asteroid Vesta, this time taken from about 2,300 miles away. At this distance the resolution is still somewhat coarse, with the smallest visible detail about 0.43 miles in size.

To the right is a cropped section of the full image, focusing in on what appears to be a very strange geological feature, indicated by the arrows. From what I can tell, the dark meandering streak looks like a rille or flow coming out of the mound or peak near the bottom of the image. Yet, this dark meander continues directly across a crater as if it were a wind-blown dust streak.

I really have no idea what geological process created this. I also suspect that the scientists don’t quite know yet either, though I am sure they have some good theories, mostly based on the very light gravity that should exist on a world only 330 miles in diameter. As I’ve already noted, however, it is going to take them a couple of months to digest the data they are getting and come up with some reasonable conclusions. It will be fun to finally find out what they have learned.

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