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, 491 (7422), 83-6

Dark Material on Vesta From the Infall of Carbonaceous Volatile-Rich Material


Dark Material on Vesta From the Infall of Carbonaceous Volatile-Rich Material

T B McCord et al. Nature.


Localized dark and bright materials, often with extremely different albedos, were recently found on Vesta's surface. The range of albedos is among the largest observed on Solar System rocky bodies. These dark materials, often associated with craters, appear in ejecta and crater walls, and their pyroxene absorption strengths are correlated with material brightness. It was tentatively suggested that the dark material on Vesta could be either exogenic, from carbon-rich, low-velocity impactors, or endogenic, from freshly exposed mafic material or impact melt, created or exposed by impacts. Here we report Vesta spectra and images and use them to derive and interpret the properties of the 'pure' dark and bright materials. We argue that the dark material is mainly from infall of hydrated carbonaceous material (like that found in a major class of meteorites and some comet surfaces), whereas the bright material is the uncontaminated indigenous Vesta basaltic soil. Dark material from low-albedo impactors is diffused over time through the Vestan regolith by impact mixing, creating broader, diffuse darker regions and finally Vesta's background surface material. This is consistent with howardite-eucrite-diogenite meteorites coming from Vesta.

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