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Scientists say they have seen features on Asteroid Vesta that look as though they could have been cut by some sort of fluid flow - possibly liquid
If correct, it is an extraordinary observation because any free water on the surface of the airless body would ordinarily boil rapidly and
This this is fascinating stuff, considering the size of Vesta the presence of liquid water at some stage - no matter how short lived - just extends
the possibilities with regards to life. 50 years old ago who would have thought that life could exist in an asteroid belt? Now we know there is the
very real possibility of a liquid ocean on Ceres and and also the possible existence of ancient flowing water on its little brother, Vesta.
Whilst I'm by no means extensively versed on Vesta or its formation given that it is spherical in nature it most likely has a differentiated interior
and so not long after accretion, whilst the radioactive decay at the core was still occurring it may have had something comparable to plate tectonics
in the sense that volcanism would have produced heavy out-gassing onto the asteroid's surface, producing a tenuous atmosphere. We know that at some
point after Earth's formation water vapour did exist in our atmosphere but it was only when the temperature decreased that it could condense to form
our oceans. I'm thinking that perhaps given Vesta's significantly weaker surface gravity that it perhaps did not get as hot there and so temperatures
during the heavy period of volcanic activity may have been low enough to allow large scale condensing of water, forming these features until the
volcanic activity stopped and the atmosphere escaped. If that's the case then these features are billions of years old.
edit on 6-12-2012 by
NoExpert because: (no reason given)