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Published:June 18th, 2011 14:11 EST
Asteroid Vesta: The Key to Understanding Our Solar System?

Asteroid Vesta: The Key to Understanding Our Solar System?

By Ron G Anselm

The world of science and especially Astronomy is like opening a Birthday or Christmas gift, you never know what you are going to get until you finally discover what is in the box you just opened. Astronomy and space is exactly like that, scientists are always discovering new things out there and finding out answers to the many unanswered questions about our Galaxy and Solar System.

One of the more interesting elements that Scientists have been studying recently is an asteroid named Vesta. Vesta was first discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope between November 28 and December 1, 1994. Vesta measures around 326 miles in diameter which is just a little smaller that the state of Arizona which makes Vesta one of the smaller asteroids frequenting around in the space Asteroid belt.

Vesta also moves at a little faster rate although it is a smaller asteroid so this may average out in the long run to the same speed as it take Earth to rotate once on its axis, Vesta averages one turn every 5.34 hours as it take Earth 24 hours to make one turn.

Vesta is a very interesting little asteroid in that it has a lot of the same characteristics as does Earth. Vesta is very diverse and is really the only asteroid out there to have a light and a dark area on its surface such as does our moon. If you look at the moon at night whether through a telescope or by the naked eye, not only will you see a face in the moon but that face is really just the light and dark areas on the surface.

Vesta also has a surface and geographical area with many lava falls and basins so deep if you jumped off of one of those basins it would probably be like bungee cord jumping off one of the walls of the Grand Canyon. Those basins are so deep it exposes the subsurface and mantle of Vesta`s geographical terrain.

If you compared the terrain of Vesta`s subsurface it would compare to that of Earth`s and Mars. The evidence of once that lava did flow on Vesta surface contradicted the fact that all asteroids were made up of cold and rocky terrain, not Vesta`s terrain which proves that molten lava did once flow there and that Asteroids can have terrain muck like Earth`s terrain or any surrounding planet.

Scientists are also trying to figure out where Vesta may have originally come from. One possibility that it may have been born from a Super Nova Explosion. A Super Nova explosion is a stellar explosion that is more energetic than a nova. Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months. (

This is thought to be the case by scientist because radioactive material was discovered in the core of Vesta. The hot isotope radioactive material may have melted the core of Vesta which caused the heavier and denser material to sink to the center of Vesta`s core while the lighter and rockier material may have risen to the top of Vesta`s surface. This is really the most common structure of the surfaces of terrestrial planets.

One of the more interesting facts about Vesta is that more than four billion years ago mouton lava flowed on the surface of Vesta and that surface has not changed since then except for the occasional meteor that may slam into the surface of Vesta and leave a hole or dent.

Scientist have recently taken more of an interest in Vesta and are using the NASA Spacecraft Dawn to hover around Vesta as it rotates freely in the space asteroid belt and take pictures of the free floating asteroid.

Spacecraft Dawn took many pixel images of the surface of Vesta and revealed a huge shadowy image around the South Pole of Vesta that may reveal a larger meteor may have slammed into Vesta recently and left its mark. Some of the debris from the impact of meteors on the surface of Vesta has fallen to Earth. The material which is analyzed after it is collected show the same composition make-up of the surface of Vesta.

Vesta is really sort of a riddle to Scientist in that it may be the link to discovering the origin of the Solar System and to the makeup of rocky planets. Ben Zellner who study`s Astronomy at Georgia Southern University said, "Vesta has survived essentially intact since the formation of the planets, "It provides a record of the long and complex evolution of our solar system." (, 2011)

With the ongoing study of Vesta scientist may once discover new ideas about our Solar System which could lead to broader scopes when it comes to science and astronomy. Vesta is proving to be the ginney pig of information to link of to the evaluation of planets and our world around us.

Reference:, Define Super Nova Explosion, ( Retrieved 2011.

Solars Views, Vesta, ( Retrieved 2011.