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Dawn Spacecraft Finds Signs of Water On Vesta

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the branson's-water-park dept.

NASA 33

ananyo writes "Vesta, the second-most-massive body in the asteroid belt, was thought to be bone dry. But NASA's Dawn spacecraft has found evidence that smaller, water-rich asteroids once implanted themselves in Vesta's surface. The water stays locked up in hydrated minerals until subsequent impacts create enough heat to melt the rock and release the water as a gas, leaving pitted vents in the surface. The discovery shows that yet another body in the inner Solar System has a water cycle."

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33 comments

Behold! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41412689)

The Space Jacuzzi!

Re:Behold! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41419197)

I meant a sauna, but whatever....

No water cycle... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41412721)

Water cycle assumes that the water is reused... but nothing can return the water back to the asteroid after it evaporates... Only a supply of more water from other impacts is possible.

Re:No water cycle... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41412791)

Exactly, you just need to include the entire universe and expand your time scale to match. Too bad most people don't want to live long enough though.

Re:No water cycle... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41412897)

Other than, you know, gravity.

Re:No water cycle... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41412923)

Yeah, you know, the awesome gravitational pull of an entire asteroid.

Re:No water cycle... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41414253)

Greater than the gravitational pull of your mother, and we all know SHE retains water.

Re:No water cycle... (1)

mk1004 (2488060) | about a year and a half ago | (#41414311)

Depends upon whether or not the asteroid's gravitational field is stronger than external forces, such as photons, solar wind.

Re:No water cycle... (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year and a half ago | (#41414345)

Considering that Mars' gravity is only barely sufficient, I'm going with an asteroid's is not. Even Earth's gravity would likely be insufficient if not for our magnetosphere shielding the atmosphere from most of the solar wind.

Re:No water cycle... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41510603)

I'd like to introduce you to asteroid 243 Ida [wikipedia.org] . It has a moon.

water water? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41412749)

NASA is notorious for stating "water" interchangeably with the fluid state of gasses.
This is cause the wild cry of "WATER" fuels media cycles and helps to obtain and justify project funding,

Re:water water? (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41413401)

NASA is notorious for stating "water" interchangeably with the fluid state of gasses. This is cause the wild cry of "WATER" fuels media cycles and helps to obtain and justify project funding,

First of all, you could comment with somewhat less flame-bait (it usually isn't NASA that does that but the media itself)... but yes, they found evidence of actual water. Not proof, mind you, since they didn't actually land and take a sample, but they found an excess of hydrogen and certain surface features that are characteristic of water. It's possible all that is caused by something besides water, but it's most likely water.

Re:water water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41413799)

Caused by JPL, documentaries have been made, facts have been checked.

Re:water water? (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about a year and a half ago | (#41413409)

Would you prefer they say they found DHMO?

I mean, for public release, saying "water" makes more sense.

And anyway, water consumption for human use would be minimal, if it all. That water, unless it is deep underground, has been bombarded by cosmic rays for eons, it may be too radioactive in the form of Tritium to be safe.

Most likely, it will be used as fuel/reaction mass or as shielding from Cosmic Rays..
 

Re:water water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41414485)

...it may be too radioactive in the form of Tritium to be safe.

Wow, that's heavy, dude!

Re:water water? (3, Informative)

mister_playboy (1474163) | about a year and a half ago | (#41414547)

And anyway, water consumption for human use would be minimal, if it all. That water, unless it is deep underground, has been bombarded by cosmic rays for eons, it may be too radioactive in the form of Tritium to be safe.

Cosmic rays form tritium on Earth via high energy neutrons interacting with atmospheric nitrogen. Tritium could not be produced in such a manner on an asteroid and gaseous tritium would escape into space near instantly.

Tritium has a half life of less than 12.5 years, so it could not accumulate without constant production.

Re:water water? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41413937)

And what words are you interchanging, because otherwise I don't see how what you said makes any sense. Water means H2O... it is pretty simple and NASA doesn't use it to mean anything else.

Re:water water? (1)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | about a year and a half ago | (#41414857)

"NASA is notorious for stating "water" interchangeably with the fluid state of gasses." -- for the claim of 'notorious' to be true, someone other than the vast masses of scientifically literate, engaged tea-party patriots in your own mind would have to know about it. Cite or GTFO.

Left orbit earlier this month (4, Informative)

ModernGeek (601932) | about a year and a half ago | (#41412807)

The spacecraft left orbit earlier this month, so this is about recent analyzation of collected data, not something the spacecraft recently detected, as many might believe.

Re:Left orbit earlier this month (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41413785)

Dawn is about (in 2015) to get Ceres-ess. That is the really interesting asteroid / minor planet.

Since Ceres is so blurry I now safety state that it must be a Von Neumann probe

Re:Left orbit earlier this month (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41414909)

No, this is indeed using data from the DAWN spacecraft, using the Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND). The original research paper is available here [sciencemag.org]

No shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41412971)

There used to be a planet there inhabited by water-based life-forms. Now they live here. Under our grounds. Up in our caves.

Of course there's water (2)

Enry (630) | about a year and a half ago | (#41413183)

Nobody read Marooned Off Vesta [wikipedia.org] ? By tyhe end of the story and since it was written in 1938 I'd expect some of the water would have made it there....

Re:Of course there's water (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year and a half ago | (#41413789)

I see you missed the story when the probe launched? I submitted that one, which was posted. The headline was "Marooned off Vesta" and I mentioned at the end of the summary that it was a nod to my favorite author.

Re:Of course there's water (1)

WhiteDragon (4556) | about a year and a half ago | (#41414333)

Nobody read Marooned Off Vesta [wikipedia.org] ? By tyhe end of the story and since it was written in 1938 I'd expect some of the water would have made it there....

One of the first "hard" sf stories I ever read.

Re:Of course there's water (1)

Ibiwan (763664) | about a year and a half ago | (#41417459)

Gentlemen, I give you the century's supply of good old H2O we USED to have!

not news - solar system full of ice & snowball (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year and a half ago | (#41413317)

the earth was provided with water by ice and snowballs: the comets. there are plenty of those flying around, not surprising there would be water anywhere and almost everywhere in the solar system. even mercury has ice in craters that never get exposed to sun

Re:not news - solar system full of ice & snowb (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about a year and a half ago | (#41414593)

Yeah, but that was 4.5 billions of years ago, almost 1/3 the age of the entire universe. Suns have been born, lived their lives, and exploded to scatter their heavy elements across the cosmos since then. A lot can happen on those kinds of timescales, so it's not necessarily safe to assume that the solar system is still in the same state. Moreover ice sublimates at about -60C in a vacuum, so it isn't terribly stable in the inner solar system.

Re:not news - solar system full of ice & snowb (1)

Convector (897502) | about a year and a half ago | (#41414747)

Comets. Icebergs of the sky. By jackknifing from one to the next at breakneck speed, we might get some kind of gravity boost ... or something.

Hurry before the red team gets there! (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#41414293)

Ding ding ding ding ding. Your robots have discovered water on a large asteroid with gravity. Move colony ship to colonize? Yes/No

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