Research

Asteroid Vesta has unique ‘space weathering’

Canuleia up close

Dawn’s Low Altitude Mapping Orbit (LAMO) image of the crater Canuleia illustrates the interior of the crater and complex details of the fresh rays across the soil of the asteroid Vesta. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/PSI/Brown

Space weathering — a darkening of lunar surfaces by solar wind and metal nanoparticles from vaporized meteorites — appears to happen differently on Vesta, the second-largest body in the asteroid belt. The discovery, from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, has planetary geologists returning to their lunar data for another look and further analysis.