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Dawn Mission Scientists Unlock Vesta's Mysteries


May 8, 2013
6:00–7:00 p.m. CT
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Dawn's year-long orbit of Vesta, its first destination in the main asteroid belt, revealed a mysterious world unique in the solar system. Roughly the diameter of the state of Arizona, Vesta is at once huge by asteroid standards (indeed, planetary scientists consider it a mini-planet), and yet small enough in radius that impacts make a whopping impression.

Unlocking Vesta's mysteries are two of Dawn mission's participating scientists:

  • Brett Denevi studies Vesta's regolith, the relatively fluffy surface layer, made of dust and rocky debris leftover by impacts.

  • Paul Schenk explores Vesta's craters, especially their weird shapes—often caused by that shifting regolith—and the tales they tell of Vesta's history!

Brett and Paul will show how their investigations of Vesta's weird and wonderful craters and pits tell the tale of the giant asteroid's history, as well as share the special role participating scientists have on NASA missions. Hope you will join us for Dawn's third G+ Hangout, on CosmoQuest's Learning Space.

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Brett Denevi is a Planetary Scientist in the Space Department of The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. Her research focuses on the composition, origin, and evolution of planetary and asteroidal surfaces, including regolith development. As well as being a Vesta participating scientist on the Dawn mission, she is part of the MESSENGER and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera mission teams.

Paul Schenk is a staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. He began his planetary science career working for the Voyager mission, and has contributed to our knowledge of the topography and geology of various icy satellites of the outer planets, as well as Vesta and Mars. Paul worked on Galileo, is a Cassini participating scientist, and published Atlas of the Galilean Satellites, a book on the surfaces of all four moons.