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mosaic of moon on left and image of Vesta on right

NASA Scientists Find Moon and Asteroids Share Cosmic History

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Scientists have now discovered that studying meteorites from the giant asteroid Vesta helps them understand the event known as the "Lunar Cataclysm," when a repositioning of the gas giant planets destabilized a portion of the asteroid belt and triggered a solar-system-wide bombardment. Previously, scientists had only lunar samples to work with. Scientists are now using a class of meteorites connected to Vesta -- known as howardite, eucrite and diogenite meteorites -- to study the Lunar Cataclysm, providing about three times more samples to analyze.

The left-hand mosaic of the far side of the moon is based on data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. On the right is an image of Vesta from data obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The insets show thin sections of the lunar sample 10069-13 and eucrite NWA1978.

The Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The University of California, Los Angeles, is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. The Dawn framing cameras were developed and built under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, with significant contributions by DLR German Aerospace Center, Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, and in coordination with the Institute of Computer and Communication Network Engineering, Braunschweig. The framing camera project is funded by the Max Planck Society, DLR and NASA.

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

« Vesta by Dawn Image Gallery