Strange craters on Vesta

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strange craters on Vesta

The images from Dawn keep rolling in. The picture on the right, released two days ago, shows the asteroid’s terminator. What makes it intriguing is the weird looking crater near the bottom of the image. It appears to have formed at impact on the wall of a cliff, something that at first glance seems impossible.

This is what I think happened: The impactor sliced down the wall of the cliff, but because of Vesta’s low gravitational field the impact scar never collapsed downward, filling in.

I once wrote an article about asteroids for Astronomy where I described these objects as having the consistency of mashed potatoes and ice cream sundaes. This image illustrates this nicely. The asteroid’s weak gravitational field limits the density of its material, so that puffy strange formations such as this crater can form.


One comment

  • wow yes this is awesome! the low gravity is very interesting . 0.022 g ! i can’t imagine what it would look like from a viewpoint on the ridge . so cool

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