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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.

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Giant Crater Found on Asteroid Vesta!
News story originally written on September 9, 1997

A huge crater has been discovered on asteroid Vesta with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope. The crater is 285 miles across. This is massive when compared to the Vesta's 330 mile diameter. If Earth had a crater of proportional size, it would fill most of the Pacific Ocean basin.

Something large impacted Vesta long ago. In fact, the impact gouged out one percent of the asteroid's initial volume. This means that over half a million cubic miles of rock were thrown out into space. About six percent of meteorites that are found on Earth have a similar composition to that of Vesta. The impact that caused the crater on Vesta may be the original source of many of these meteorites.

Scientists are excited about this discovery. "This is a unique opportunity to study the effects of a large impact on a small object," says Michael Gaffey of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York. "This suggests that more asteroids from the early days of the solar system may still be intact."

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