Spacecraft explorations reveal a layered, beat-up body
THE WOODLANDS, Texas — The enormous asteroid Vesta is more like a small, rocky planet than other space rocks wandering around the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Among other planetlike characteristics, Vesta’s interior is probably divided into layers like Earth’s — and scientists have detected traces of an ancient magnetic field.
“We have a hard time working on this body and not thinking about it as a planet,” said UCLA’s Christopher Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn spacecraft that has been buzzing around Vesta since July.
Like Earth, Vesta probably has an iron core, a mantle an