Formation of ejecta and dust pond deposits on asteroid Vesta

R. Parekh, K. A. Otto, K.D. Matz, R. Jaumann, K. Krohn, T. Roatsch, E. Kersten, S. Elgner, C. T. Russell, C. A. Raymond

JGR Planets
First published: 01 November 2021


“Dust and melt ponds have been studied on planetary bodies including Eros, Itokawa and the Moon. However, depending on the nature of the regolith material properties and the location of the planetary body, the formation mechanism of the ponded features varies. On Eros and Itokawa, ponded features are formed from dry regolith materials whereas on the Moon similar features are thought to be produced by ejecta melt. On the surface of Vesta, we have identified type 1, ejecta ponds and type 2, dust ponds. On Vesta type 1 ponds are located in the vicinity of ejecta melt of large impact craters. The material is uniformly distributed across the crater floor producing smooth pond surfaces which have a constant slope and shallow depth. The hosting crater of melt-like ponds has a low raised rim and is located on relatively low elevated regions. Whereas, the type 2 ponds on Vesta reveal an undulating surface that is frequently displaced from the crater center or extends towards the crater wall with an abruptly changing slope. We suggested that for the production of the type 2 ponds, localized seismic diffusion and volatile-induced fluidization may be responsible on Vesta. Due to Vesta’s large size (in comparison to Eros and Itokawa), the surface may have experienced local-scale rare high-amplitude seismic diffusion which was sufficient to drift fine material. Similarly, short-lived volatile activities were capable to transfer dusty material on to the surface. Segregation and smoothing of transferred material lack further surface activities, hindering formation of smooth morphology.”