Is Vesta an Intact and Pristine Protoplanet?

G.J. Consolmagno, G.J. Golabek, D. Turrini, M. Jutzi, S. Sirono, V. Svetsov, K. Tsiganis

available online 1 April 2015


It is difficult to find a Vesta model of iron core, pyroxene and olivine-rich mantle, and HED crust that can match the joint constraints of (a) Vesta’s density and core size as reported by the Dawn spacecraft team; (b) the chemical trends of the HED meteorites, including the depletion of sodium, the FeO abundance, and the trace element enrichments; and (c) the absence of exposed mantle material on Vesta’s surface, among Vestoid asteroids, or in our collection of basaltic meteorites. These conclusions are based entirely on mass-balance and density arguments, independent of any particular formation scenario for the HED meteorites themselves. We suggest that Vesta either formed from source material with non-chondritic composition or underwent after its formation a radical physical alteration, possibly caused by collisional processes, that affected its global composition and interior structure.