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November 12, 2011

Lutetia: a Rare Survivor from the Birth of the Earth

A nearby asteroid, Lutetia, is believed to be a fragment of the same material that Earth, Venus, and Mercury consists of. This article was extremely interesting as, once again, it confirms what we've been learning in class. To read the full article go to: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1144/#.Tr5fTLZyLok

Or read the excerpt below.

"New observations indicate that the asteroid Lutetia is a leftover fragment of the same original material that formed the Earth, Venus and Mercury. Astronomers have combined data from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, ESO’s New Technology Telescope, and NASA telescopes. They found that the properties of the asteroid closely match those of a rare kind of meteorites found on Earth and thought to have formed in the inner parts of the Solar System. Lutetia must, at some point, have moved out to its current location in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter."

Posted by tmthirty at November 12, 2011 10:21 PM


This is really interesting because according to the article only 2 percent of asteroid belt material was formed in the vicinity of the Earth. This makes me wonder if some asteroids have more materials for forming life than others would, since some compositions may be very similar to the terrestrial planets. This also shows how sporadic the early solar system was-- materials from the inner solar system were easily cast out. This makes me wonder how many asteroids or planetesimals could have been created, and why the planets we have now were the only ones that survived.

Posted by: drdod at November 13, 2011 04:22 PM

it makes you think that if this asteroid is made of the same material that earth, venus, and mercury consists of, could it have possibly came from a big impact like the moon did?

Posted by: amug at November 16, 2011 12:57 AM

This is interesting because it raises questions such as did this asteroid form during the period of heavy bombardment when something collided with the earth? If this asteroid formed from the same material as mars, Earth, jupiter and venus, is it possible that there is life on this asteroid?

Posted by: abrod at November 16, 2011 01:57 PM

I think this is an extremely interesting finding because if it is true that this asteroid is made from the same material as Earth, venus and mercury, it arises many questions. Could this asteroid formed in a similar process to that of our moon, during the heavy bombardment period as a result of planetesimals colliding with Earth? Is there life on this asteroid? It would be cool to further explore these questions.

Posted by: abrod at November 16, 2011 02:26 PM

The fact that this asteroid has similar characteristics to the materials that originally made Venus, Earth, and Mars raises interesting questions. Some of the asteroids in the asteroid belt are remnants of planetesimals that originally formed the four terrestrial planets. Are those like Lutetia really so rare, or do they exist and we just haven’t found them? Probability tells us that there have to be more asteroids like these.

Posted by: djcarl at November 19, 2011 06:42 PM

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