Monday, December 12, 2011

News on Vesta

Hey Space Placers!

The Dawn spacecraft has been studying Vesta since its arrival months ago and the scientific results are adding up to the following question, "Is Vesta the smallest terrestrial planet?" In other words, is Vesta a failed planet that would have been similar to the terrestrial planets of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

Vesta has characteristics that qualify it for such a designation - iron core, complex geological history. But such a designation has to come from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) - the worldwide congress of professional astronomers who vote and decide on such things. IAU demoted Pluto from planetary status and could do the same for Vesta by promoting it from asteroid to dwarf planet status. Only time and more data will tell.

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Sky Guy in VA

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