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Large ejecta fragments from asteroidsThe asteroid 4 Vesta, with its unique basaltic crust, remains a key mystery of planetary evolution. A localized olivine feature suggests excavation of subcrustal material in a crater or impact basin comparable in size to the planetary radius (R(sub vesta) is approximately = 280 km). Furthermore, a 'clan' of small asteroids associated with Vesta (by spectral and orbital similarities) may be ejecta from this impact 151 and direct parents of the basaltic achondrites. To escape, these smaller (about 4-7 km) asteroids had to be ejected at speeds greater than the escape velocity, v(sub esc) is approximately = 350 m/s. This evidence that large fragments were ejected at high speed from Vesta has not been reconciled with the present understanding of impact physics. Analytical spallation models predict that an impactor capable of ejecting these 'chips off Vesta' would be almost the size of Vesta! Such an impact would lead to the catastrophic disruption of both bodies. A simpler analysis is outlined, based on comparison with cratering on Mars, and it is shown that Vesta could survive an impact capable of ejecting kilometer-scale fragments at sufficient speed. To what extent does Vesta survive the formation of such a large crater? This is best addressed using a hydrocode such as SALE 2D with centroidal gravity to predict velocities subsequent to impact. The fragmentation outcome and velocity subsequent to the impact described to demonstrate that Vesta survives without large-scale disassembly or overturning of the crust. Vesta and its clan represent a valuable dataset for testing fragmentation hydrocodes such as SALE 2D and SPH 3D at planetary scales. Resolution required to directly model spallation 'chips' on a body 100 times as large is now marginally possible on modern workstations. These boundaries are important in near-surface ejection processes and in large-scale disruption leading to asteroid families and stripped cores.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Asphaug, E.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, US, United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
July 1, 1994
Publication Information
Publication: Meteoritics
Volume: 29
Issue: 4
ISSN: 0026-1114
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Exploration
Accession Number
Distribution Limits

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