New Insights into Water in the Asteroid 4 Vesta

Asteroid 4 Vesta

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

The asteroid 4 Vesta is the second largest body in the asteroid belt and was visited by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft from 2011 to 2012. New observations recently published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta reveal that the minerals on Vesta more strongly hold onto water when in the presence of melt than previously thought. These insights, which are based on laboratory experiments that recreate the environment of Vesta combined with measurements of water in meteorites derived from Vesta, will help constrain the origin of water in the inner solar system, including water on Earth. Additional isotopic measurements reported in the article are consistent with an inner solar system source of H and do not require invoking comets to bring water to the asteroid belt. READ MORE