Washington: The Scientists have recently created the first global geologic and tectonic map of asteroid Vesta, which helped them reveal the history of large impacts.
The mapping was carried out using images from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which orbited Vesta between June 2011 and September 2012. The images let scientists create high-resolution geological maps, revealing the variety of Vesta's surface features in unprecedented detail.
Heavy cratering has scarred Vesta throughout its history, and an a team of 14 scientists led by David Williams of Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Explorationled has mapped the impact sequence that is helping scientists compare Vesta's evolution to other solar system objects.
The mappers found that Vesta's geologic time scale has been shaped by a sequence of large impact events. The biggest of these were the impacts that blasted the large Veneneia and Rheasilvia craters early in Vesta's history and the Marcia crater late in its history.
It turns out that the oldest surviving crust on Vesta predates the Veneneia impact, which occurred 2.1 billion years to 3.7 billion years ago. The Rheasilvia impact, in contrast, has an age of 1 billion to 3.5 billion years.
The findings reveal a bit more about Vesta and may actually tell scientists a bit more about the history of Earth's solar system.
The study is published in the journal Icarus.