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Saturday8 November 20033:33pm MST2003-11-08 UTC 2233
Today's news Page status: done, updated 9 Nov.

Main Belt news

4 Vesta water detected
4 Vesta imagery
from HST 19 April 1995 Enhanced imagery of 4 Vesta from the Hubble Space Telescope 19 April 1995 by Ben Zellner, Georgia Southern University, courtesy of STScI.
The Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has a news item dated October 29th about an article to be published in Geophysical Research Letters. It reports that researchers have discovered "evidence of hydrated and/or hydroxylated minerals on the surface" of 4 Vesta [link|alt] using the 3.8m U.K. Infra-Red Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii last March. Considering what has been learned from Vesta-associated (HED) meteorites and the current understanding of Vesta's origins, it is concluded that this water comes from impacts of "carbonaceous chondrites containing material associated with life such as hydrated minerals, hydrocarbons, [and] amino acids. The detection of 3-micron absorption features from asteroid 4 Vesta may provide clues to the origin of volatile materials on terrestrial planets."

While reviewing links for this report, an interesting new one was found. The European Southern Observatory project, "Catch a Star! 2002" involved European student-teacher groups in an essay contest late last year, and one of these pulls together information about 4 Vesta from around the Web. It was assembled by Bulgarian teacher Vanya Angelova and students Marina Marinova, Tsvetelina Nacheva, and Margarita Petkova.

In a 1992 paper in Icarus, "Water vaporization on Ceres" (abstract), Michael A'Hearn and Paul Feldman reported that a search for OH in the region of 1 Ceres [link|alt] had found an amount "consistent with a polar cap that might be replenished during winter by subsurface percolation, but which dissipates in summer." Ceres and Vesta are the destinations for the upcoming Dawn mission, and the December 2001 UCLA Dawn announcement media kit said that,

Evidence of water — frost or vapor on the surface, and possibly liquid water under the surface — still exist on Ceres; this water kept Ceres cool throughout its evolution. At the same time, Vesta was hot, melted internally and became volcanic early in its development. As a result of these two different evolutionary paths, Ceres remains in its primordial state, while Vesta evolved and changed over millions of years. 

The mission's Web site Science description notes that Ceres may be "covered with a dry clay," and comments that,

We are especially interested in contrasting dry, differentiated Vesta with its wet counterpart, Ceres, just a little further from the Sun. It appears that a rather short additional radial separation allowed Ceres to accrete wet and stay cool while early heat sources in the accreting material melted Vesta. 
MUSES-C Hayabusa spacecraft
with four ion engine nozzles in view.
MUSES-C Hayabusa spacecraft with four ion engine nozzles in view. Image courtesy of JAXA/ISAS.

News briefs
Hayabusa status:  The JAXA Hayabusa status page reports (dated November 6th) that the spacecraft's three ion engines "are operating smoothly" and have each now run for 2,000 hours (there is also a fourth for backup). See the A/CC Hayabusa MUSES-C archive for more about this first-ever asteroid sample return mission.


November showers:  National Geographic has an article from yesterday, "Meteor Shower Promises Seven Shooting Stars an Hour," telling about the history of the immense Taurid meteor stream that takes Earth a couple of weeks to traverse beginning at about this time every year. Next week the Leonid meteor shower will have a peak on the 13th, followed by two peaks on the 19th, which Space.com told about in an article yesterday. See also Science@NASA's October 10th report and the NASA/Ames Leonid Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign (MAC) predictions page.


Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0134 UTC, 9 Nov

Object

Assessment

Years

VI
PS
cum
PS
max
T
S
Arc 
days
 2003 VF1NEODyS 11/8R E M O V E D
 2003 UX34JPL 11/32040-20401-4.76-4.7607.080
 2003 UO12NEODyS 11/4R E M O V E D
JPL 11/42067-20671-7.92-7.92013.624
VI = count of "virtual impactors" (impact solutions)
See A/CC's Consolidated Risk Tables for more and maybe
  newer details, and check the monitors' links for latest info.

Risk monitoring 8 Nov.
Today NEODyS removed 2003 VF1, the kilometer-plus object announced two days ago. The NEODyS VF1 observation tally shows, beyond the discovery MPEC data, two observations from last night from Linz Observatory in Austria.

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