An Incredibly Detailed Geologic Map Of Giant Asteroid Vesta

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Appearing in the December issue of the journal Icarus, this beautiful geologic map of big ol' asteroid/minor-planet Vesta was created by a team led by planetary scientist David Williams, from data collected by NASA's Dawn spacecraft during its 15-month orbit of the oblong object between 2011 and 2012.

The researchers use the geologic map and other data acquired by Dawn to propose a "time-stratigraphic scheme and geologic time scale" for vesta:

On the basis of prominent impact structures and their associated deposits, we propose a time scale for Vesta that consists of four geologic time periods: Pre-Veneneian, Veneneian, Rheasilvian, and Marcian. The Pre-Veneneian Period covers the time from the formation of Vesta up to the Veneneia impact event, from 4.6 Ga to >2.1 Ga (using the asteroid flux-derived chronology system) or from 4.6 Ga to 3.7 Ga (under the lunar-derived chronology system). The Veneneian Period covers the time span between the Veneneia and Rheasilvia impact events, from >2.1 to 1 Ga (asteroid flux-derived chronology) or from 3.7 to 3.5 Ga (lunar-derived chronology), respectively. The Rheasilvian Period covers the time span between the Rheasilvia and Marcia impact events, and the Marcian Period covers the time between the Marcia impact event until the present. The age of the Marcia impact is still uncertain, but our current best estimates from crater counts of the ejecta blanket suggest an age between ∼120 and 390 Ma, depending upon choice of chronology system used. Regardless, the Marcia impact represents the youngest major geologic event on Vesta. Our proposed four-period geologic time scale for Vesta is, to a first order, comparable to those developed for other airless terrestrial bodies.


Read the full report at Icarus.

H/t Wired