Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Second Largest Mountain in the Solar System

We have found the second largest known mountain in the solar system, on the battered asteroid Vesta (which is currently being orbited and examined by the DAWN spacecraft). The mountain, not yet named, is 13 miles high and 112 miles across its base. It rises from the center of a giant impact crater; the hit that produced that crater is probably also responsible, in part, for Vesta becoming the largest body in the solar system that is NOT round. See an image of the mountain, on a map drawn from the DAWN photographs, here:

(The largest known mountain is Mount Olympus on Mars, by the way. It is 16 miles high and larger at its base than the entire state of Arizona.)

You can see an interesting modeled image of the Vesta mountain here:
but please note that the height of everything on this picture has been exaggerated by a factor of 1.5 to make the huge mountain look more mountain-like, as it was posing for the media and the public.

We expect many more discoveries about asteroid Vesta as the DAWN mission continues.

1 comment:

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