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Dawn probe spies possible water-cut gullies on Vesta

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posted on Dec, 6 2012 @ 04:12 PM

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 water.

If correct, it is an extraordinary observation because any free water on the surface of the airless body would ordinarily boil rapidly and vaporise.

Link to full article

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)

posted on Jan, 29 2014 @ 03:20 PM
reply to post by NoExpert

Well here's a thread with important data which was swept up and out of the que without a comment.

Has there been any new information on this aspect of the mission? Thanks.

posted on Jan, 29 2014 @ 03:37 PM
reply to post by Aleister

I am not sure about Vesta, but recently it was shown that Ceres ejects plumes of water vapor and DAWN will be there at the beginning of next year.


In mid-2015, the asteroid probe Dawn is scheduled to establish orbit around Ceres, the only dwarf planet in the inner Solar System, as well as the largest asteroid, to begin roughly six months of close-up observation. The level of interest in this mission has significantly increased with the detection by the ESA's Herschel space observatory of plumes of water vapor being exuded from Ceres' surface from a pair of local sources.

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