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NASA Space Science

Dawn Spacecraft Finds Signs of Water On Vesta 33

Posted by Soulskill
from the branson's-water-park dept.
ananyo writes "Vesta, the second-most-massive body in the asteroid belt, was thought to be bone dry. But NASA's Dawn spacecraft has found evidence that smaller, water-rich asteroids once implanted themselves in Vesta's surface. The water stays locked up in hydrated minerals until subsequent impacts create enough heat to melt the rock and release the water as a gas, leaving pitted vents in the surface. The discovery shows that yet another body in the inner Solar System has a water cycle."
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Dawn Spacecraft Finds Signs of Water On Vesta

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  • No water cycle... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @01:03PM (#41412721)

    Water cycle assumes that the water is reused... but nothing can return the water back to the asteroid after it evaporates... Only a supply of more water from other impacts is possible.

  • by ModernGeek (601932) on Friday September 21, 2012 @01:10PM (#41412807) Homepage
    The spacecraft left orbit earlier this month, so this is about recent analyzation of collected data, not something the spacecraft recently detected, as many might believe.
  • interesting article (Score:5, Informative)

    by DaWhilly (2555136) on Friday September 21, 2012 @01:22PM (#41412955)
    I prefer the Science Daily version. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120920202045.htm [sciencedaily.com] Less sensational.
  • Re:water water? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Friday September 21, 2012 @02:00PM (#41413401)

    NASA is notorious for stating "water" interchangeably with the fluid state of gasses. This is cause the wild cry of "WATER" fuels media cycles and helps to obtain and justify project funding,

    First of all, you could comment with somewhat less flame-bait (it usually isn't NASA that does that but the media itself)... but yes, they found evidence of actual water. Not proof, mind you, since they didn't actually land and take a sample, but they found an excess of hydrogen and certain surface features that are characteristic of water. It's possible all that is caused by something besides water, but it's most likely water.

  • Re:water water? (Score:4, Informative)

    by mister_playboy (1474163) on Friday September 21, 2012 @03:39PM (#41414547)

    And anyway, water consumption for human use would be minimal, if it all. That water, unless it is deep underground, has been bombarded by cosmic rays for eons, it may be too radioactive in the form of Tritium to be safe.

    Cosmic rays form tritium on Earth via high energy neutrons interacting with atmospheric nitrogen. Tritium could not be produced in such a manner on an asteroid and gaseous tritium would escape into space near instantly.

    Tritium has a half life of less than 12.5 years, so it could not accumulate without constant production.

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