| The asteroid Lutetia at closest approach as seen by Europe's Rosetta spacecraft in July 2010. |
CREDIT: ESA Full Story
The first close-up photos of the battered asteroid Lutetia taken by a European spacecraft have amazed scientists with views of a possible otherworldly landslide and a deep depression gouged across the landscape that hints at the space rock's ancient, violent past.
The new photos of Lutetia, beamed back from the European Space Agency's (ESA) Rosetta space probe during a Saturday flyby, show what scientists said is a primitive asteroid survivor from the tumultuous birth of the solar system.
"I think this is a very old object," said Holger Sierks, principal investigator for Rosetta's main scientific imaging system, OSIRIS, in a statement on the night of the flyby. "Tonight we have seen a remnant of the solar system's creation."
Close views of Lutetia show that the space rock is covered in craters from many impacts during its 4.5 billion years of existence.
As Rosetta drew close, a giant bowl-shaped depression stretching across much of the body of Lutetia rotated into view. What appeared to be an asteroid landslide was also spotted in the spacecraft's photos.
In another striking photo, the ringed planet Saturn can be seen in the distance beyond Lutetia as the asteroid hovers in the foreground. [ Photo of asteroid Lutetia and Saturn.]
Rosetta's flyby confirmed that Lutetia is an elongated body, with its longest side spanning approximately 81 miles (130 km), ESA officials said.
The Rosetta spacecraft is actually headed to visit the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014. The Lutetia flyby ? as well as an earlier visit to the asteroid Steins in 2008 ? was a pit stop on the way to the probe's ultimate comet destination.
Asteroid may have core of hot melted metal - Technology & science - Space - Space.com - msnbc.com
A new look at an asteroid in deep space has revealed signs of a molten-hot core, a smoldering remnant from the earliest days of the solar system that could also help unlock secrets of some of Earth's weirdest meteorites, researchers say.
At the heart of the new study is the asteroid 21 Lutetia, one of the millions of rocks in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The European Space Agency's Rosetta probe flew by 21 Lutetia in 2010, providing scientists with their first detailed look at a large asteroid.Read More...
- Asteroid Lutetia may have core of hot melted metal
- Asteroid may have core of hot melted metal - Technology & science - Space - Space.com - msnbc.com
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