NASA has just released the very latest results of DAWN's continuing mission at Vesta, the 2nd largest asteroid in the solar system.
As related by NASA, "Spacecraft images, taken 420 miles (680 kilometers) and 130 miles (210 kilometers) above the surface of the asteroid, show a variety of surface mineral and rock patterns. Coded false-color images help scientists better understand Vesta's composition and enable them to identify material that was once molten below the asteroid's surface. " "Researchers also see breccias, which are rocks fused during impacts from space debris. Many of the materials seen by Dawn are composed of iron- and magnesium-rich minerals, which often are found in Earth's volcanic rocks. Images also reveal smooth pond-like deposits, which might have formed as fine dust created during impacts settled into low regions."
"At the Tarpeia crater near the south pole of the asteroid (pictured below), Dawn revealed bands of minerals that appear as brilliant layers on the crater's steep slopes. The exposed layering allows scientists to see farther back into the geological history of the giant asteroid. "
"The layers closer to the surface bear evidence of contamination from space rocks bombarding Vesta's surface. Layers below preserve more of their original characteristics. Frequent landslides on the slopes of the craters also have revealed other hidden mineral patterns."
"These results from Dawn suggest Vesta's 'skin' is constantly renewing," said Maria Cristina De Sanctis, lead of the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer team based at Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics in Rome."
Read More About It: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/dawn/news/dawn20120425.html