Map of the asteroid Vespa show it is worthy of being called a protoplanet
While the colors are indeed appealing, the implications of this image from NASA’s Dawn probe are pretty interesting. The colors represent different frequencies given off by minerals on the asteroid’s surface. Green, for example, may represent pyroxene, an iron-rich mineral. According to scientists, the findings mean this:
This all goes to show that Vesta is a diverse object with different cosmic ingredients and well-separated layers. This bolsters claims that Vesta is a protoplanet — an embryonic world that might have become a major planet if it weren’t trapped in the lethal asteroid belt.
Dawn will continue to study Vespa for a year before moving on to Ceres, the largest protoplanet in the asteroid belt.