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NASA Space Science

Dawn Spacecraft Finds Signs of Water On Vesta 33

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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  • Behold! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The Space Jacuzzi!
  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Exactly, you just need to include the entire universe and expand your time scale to match. Too bad most people don't want to live long enough though.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Other than, you know, gravity.

  • by ModernGeek ( 601932 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @01:10PM (#41412807)
    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.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      No, this is indeed using data from the DAWN spacecraft, using the Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND). The original research paper is available here [sciencemag.org]
  • 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.
  • by Enry ( 630 ) <enry@wayga.QUOTEnet minus punct> on Friday September 21, 2012 @01:44PM (#41413183) Journal

    Nobody read Marooned Off Vesta [wikipedia.org]? By tyhe end of the story and since it was written in 1938 I'd expect some of the water would have made it there....

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      I see you missed the story when the probe launched? I submitted that one, which was posted. The headline was "Marooned off Vesta" and I mentioned at the end of the summary that it was a nod to my favorite author.

    • Nobody read Marooned Off Vesta [wikipedia.org]? By tyhe end of the story and since it was written in 1938 I'd expect some of the water would have made it there....

      One of the first "hard" sf stories I ever read.

    • by Ibiwan ( 763664 )
      Gentlemen, I give you the century's supply of good old H2O we USED to have!
  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Friday September 21, 2012 @01:54PM (#41413317)

    the earth was provided with water by ice and snowballs: the comets. there are plenty of those flying around, not surprising there would be water anywhere and almost everywhere in the solar system. even mercury has ice in craters that never get exposed to sun

    • Yeah, but that was 4.5 billions of years ago, almost 1/3 the age of the entire universe. Suns have been born, lived their lives, and exploded to scatter their heavy elements across the cosmos since then. A lot can happen on those kinds of timescales, so it's not necessarily safe to assume that the solar system is still in the same state. Moreover ice sublimates at about -60C in a vacuum, so it isn't terribly stable in the inner solar system.

    • Comets. Icebergs of the sky. By jackknifing from one to the next at breakneck speed, we might get some kind of gravity boost ... or something.

  • Ding ding ding ding ding. Your robots have discovered water on a large asteroid with gravity. Move colony ship to colonize? Yes/No

  • I guess that Vista was just that bad...

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.