Russell, Christopher T. Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics and the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, California.
Raymond, Carol Anne Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California.
Last reviewed:February 2019
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- Discovery and properties
- Confirmation of Vesta as the HED parent body
- Impact history of the Vestan surface
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The second largest body in the asteroid belt. Vesta constitutes about 9 percent of the mass in the asteroid belt, with the largest body, Ceres, constituting 25 percent. Because Vesta is not quite spherical, it does not qualify as a dwarf planet, like Ceres (Fig. 1), and is instead classified as a minor planet. Unlike most other asteroids, though, Vesta is a differentiated object, meaning it is physically divided into a core, mantle, and crust, like a planet. Vesta is the parent asteroid of the howardite, eucrite, and diogenite (HED) clan of meteorites, which represent about 5 percent of all meteorites found on Earth. The Dawn spacecraft made the first and, so far, only probe visit to Vesta, arriving in July 2011 and remaining in orbit until September 2012. See also: Asteroid; Ceres; Completion of the Dawn mission to the asteroid belt; Dawn mission; Earth; Meteorite; Planet
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