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Vesta seems more planet than asteroid

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.

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