The Curiosity rover, which is designed to explore Mars, has found an ancient oasis on Mars. Researchers working with the Curiosity rover have found salt-enriched…
A new image from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows a mountain almost three times as high as Mountain Everest, among the topography in the south polar region of the giant asteroid Vesta. The peak of Vesta’s south pole mountain, seen in the center of the image, rises about 13 miles (22 kilometers) above the average height of the surrounding terrain. Another impressive structure is a large scarp, a cliff with a steep slope, on the right side of this image. The scarp bounds part of the south polar depression, and the Dawn team’s scientists believe features around its base are probably the result of landslides. Other findings show that Vesta’s surface, viewed by Dawn at different wavelengths, has striking diversity in its composition, particularly around craters.
Science findings also include an in-depth analysis of a set of equatorial troughs on Vesta and a closer look at the object’s intriguing craters. The surface appears to be much rougher than most asteroids in the main asteroid belt. In addition, preliminary dates from a method that uses the number of craters indicate that areas in the southern hemisphere are as young as 1 billion to 2 billion years old, much younger than areas in the north. Scientists don’t yet understand how all the features on Vesta’s surface formed. Dawn entered orbit around Vesta in July. Following a year at Vesta, the spacecraft will depart in July 2012 for Ceres, where it will arrive in 2015.
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