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IRON AND ICE
A Fleeting Flyby Of A Battered World Called Asteroid 21 Lutetia
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (ESA) Jun 28, 2012


This spectacular movie shows a sequence of images snapped by Rosetta as it flew past the main-belt asteroid on 10 July 2010. Credits: ESA 2012 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.

The long and tumultuous history of asteroid Lutetia was revealed by ESA's Rosetta spacecraft as it raced past this large, ancient asteroid. This spectacular movie shows a sequence of images snapped by Rosetta as it flew past the main-belt asteroid on 10 July 2010.

The sequence begins nine and a half hours before Rosetta made its closest pass, when the asteroid still appeared like a distant tumbling speck seen from a distance of 500 000 km.

Surface features quickly loom into view and the movie concludes six minutes after closest approach, with Rosetta 6300 km from the asteroid.

A wide variety of impact craters and other features that scar the surface of Lutetia, all revealed for the first time, provide a window into the asteroid's geological past.

Perhaps the most prominent feature is a 57 km-wide crater that marks one of the most dramatic collision events in the asteroid's long history. Lutetia's oldest craters are estimated to be 3.4-3.7 billion years old, while the youngest regions are just a few tens of millions of years old.

Networks of grooves, fractures and fault lines suggest that seismic events also played a role in shaping the asteroid's surface.

This spectacular movie shows a sequence of images snapped by Rosetta as it flew past the main-belt asteroid on 10 July 2010.

Lutetia is thought to be a survivor from the very earliest period of Solar System formation some 4.5 billion years ago, and may even have tried to grow a metal heart, just like the planets.

The Rosetta spacecraft is now on its way to rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in May 2014. A few months later, its Philae probe will separate to make the first controlled landing on a comet.

Credits: ESA 2012 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

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Related Links
Rosetta at ESA
Asteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology






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IRON AND ICE
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