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October 30, 2011

Most pristine known asteroid is denser than granite

Astronomers claim that asteroid 21 Lutetia may be the second largest asteroid ever seen by a spacecraft. The European spacecraft Rosetta discovered Asteroid Lutetia at 50,000 kilometers per hour. They say that most asteroids that spacecrafts take pictures of appear to be chunks of debris that were loosely held together by gravity. Astronomers say Lutetia is very dense and that it seems to have survived the fierce collisions in the early solar system intact. The rock is said to have one of the highest asteroid densities ever measured, at 3.4 tons per cubic meter, which in fact is denser than granite. Astronomers say that its density suggests that Lutetia may have heavy metals in its core. However, this suggestion may be contradicted because the space craft Rosetta showed an unmelted surface covered in craters, providing no signs of an interior made up of heavy metals. Although astronomers have discovered quite a significant amount from Lutetia, they say in order to learn more about the composition of the material they would need to analyze it with a lander, or bring back a part of it to conduct in depth analysis. You can visit this link in order to see the article yourself. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21101-most-pristine-known-asteroid-is-denser-than-granite.html

Posted by aakashj at October 30, 2011 01:40 PM

Comments

I really hope that there aren't any metals hidden in the core of this asteroid. If there isn't any metal in its core, I'm convinced that Lutetia would be the densest rock ever. 3.4 tons per cubic meter is proportional to approximately one ton per square foot. That's one heavy rock! In the future, I hope we have access to or the ability to make a spacecraft fast enough to follow and take samples from Lutetia. That way, we would know the truth about this large and heavy asteroid.

Posted by: djcarl at October 31, 2011 07:43 PM

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