Asteroid Lutetia as viewed by the Rosetta spacecraft on July 10, 2010.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of ESA 2010 MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/RSSD/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA.
Lutetia is a medium-sized asteroid. It orbits the Sun in the main asteroid belt. The asteroid belt is between the planets Mars and Jupiter. Lutetia was discovered by Hermann Goldschmidt in Paris in 1852. Lutetia is the Latin name for Paris.
On average, Lutetia is about 96 km (60 miles) across. It isn't a sphere like a planet, though. Lutetia is 132 km (82 miles) across at the longest part. It is only about 76 km (47 miles) long in the shortest direction.
Astronomers aren't quite sure what Lutetia is made of. It may have more metal in it than most asteroids. Or maybe it is mostly rock, like most other asteroids. The material that an asteroid is made of gives us clues about how it formed.
A space probe named Rosetta flew past Lutetia in July 2010. Rosetta gave us our first good look at the asteroid. Lutetia is the largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft so far. Rosetta was zooming along at a speed of 15 km/s (9 miles/sec or more than 33,000 mph) when it flew by Lutetia! Rosetta sent some great pictures and lots of other data back to Earth. Rosetta's next stop is a comet.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology
, rocks and minerals
, and Earth system science
You might also be interested in:
Scientists believe that the solar system was formed when a cloud of gas and dust in space was disturbed, maybe by the expl osion of a nearby star (called a supernova). This explosion made waves in space...more
Rosetta is a European space probe. It was launched in 2004. Its main mission is to fly to a comet and land on it. Along the way it has flown by two asteroids. In July 2010 it flew by an asteroid named...more
Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko was discovered in 1969. It is named after the two scientists who found it, Klim Churyumov and Svetlana Gerasimenko. The comet goes around the Sun once every 6.57 years. The...more
Toutatis is the name of a strange asteroid. This asteroid has a strange shape. It also spins in a funny way. Toutatis is shaped like a potato. It is about 5 km (3 miles) long. It is about half as wide...more
Lutetia is a medium-sized asteroid. It orbits the Sun in the main asteroid belt. The asteroid belt is between the planets Mars and Jupiter. Lutetia was discovered by Hermann Goldschmidt in Paris in 1852....more