jul 192013
 
Snow in an Infant Planetary System

  The sight of a snowfall can thrill children, but the first-ever snow line seen around a distant star gives astronomers an even greater thrill because of what it reveals about the formation of planets and our Solar System’s history. Artist concept of snow line in TW Hydrae showing water covered ice grains in the [continue reading]

jan 052013
 
Carbon, a Building Block for Organic Molecules, in Vesta's Craters

  Large impacts of asteroids may have transferred carbonaceous material to the protoplanet and inner Solar System   The protoplanet Vesta has been witness to an eventful past: images taken by the framing camera onboard NASA’s space probe Dawn show two enormous craters in the southern hemisphere. The images were obtained during Dawn’s year-long visit [continue reading]

okt 132012
 
A Dynamo on Asteroid Vesta

  A meteorite found in Antarctica holds evidence of a once-active dynamo on Vesta. About 4.6 billion years ago, the Solar System was little more than a tenuous disk of gas and dust. In the span of merely 10 million years, this soup evolved to form today’s massive, complex planets. In the intervening period, however, [continue reading]

sep 022012
 
Searching for Clues of Earth’s First Life on Asteroid

  The Japanese space agency JAXA plans to land a spacecraft onto an asteroid in 2018 to search for clues of how life began on Earth. An artists rendering of Hayabusa 2 approaching the asteroid 1999 JU3. Image Credit: JAXA   Hayabusa 2 will be JAXA’s second attempt at collecting material from an asteroid, after its first [continue reading]

jul 252012
 
Two Solar System Puzzles Solved

  Comets and asteroids preserve the building blocks of our Solar System and should help explain its origin. But there are unsolved puzzles. For example, how did icy comets obtain particles that formed at high temperatures, and how did these refractory particles acquire rims with different compositions? Carnegie’s theoretical astrophysicist Alan Boss and cosmochemist Conel [continue reading]

jul 232012
 
Ancient Meteorites Give New Clues to the Early Solar System

  In order to understand Earth’s earliest history–its formation from Solar System material into the present-day layering of metal core and mantle, and crust–scientists look to meteorites. The diogenites originated deep within the crust of Vesta and resemble rocks, both in texture and composition, which we find in the lower crust of the Earth. The [continue reading]