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For the first time, images of “the golf ball asteroid” are revealed

Images of an asteroid with so many craters that it is called “the golf ball” are first revealed and have a width of 248 MILES

  • The asteroid was first discovered in the asteroid belt in 1802 with a strange orbit
  • It is called the golf ball because of the dozens of craters on the surface
  • There is also a ‘light point’ on Pallas that can be a significant amount of salt

Images of an asteroid with so many craters that it is called “the golf ball” are first revealed and there is a distance of 248 miles.

MIT astronomers have studied the Pallas asteroid belt object, named after the Greek goddess of wisdom because of its unusual tilt.

It was first discovered in 1802, but new images suggest it is on an unusual orbit that makes it “pave its way through the asteroid belt.”

Each impact contributes to the appearance of his golf ball and would be up to four times more harmful than a collision between two asteroids on the same course.

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Numerous large craters are visible on both hemispheres, and a clear spot reminiscent of salt deposits on Ceres can be found on the southern

Pallas is the third largest object in the asteroid belt and is about one-seventh the size of the Earth’s moon, astronomers say.

Although astronomers have studied the object since the 19th century, this is the first time that images of the heavy crater surface have been made.


Ceres – 583 miles wide

Vesta – 326 miles wide

Pallas – 318 miles wide

Hygiea – 269 miles wide

It revolves around a considerably tilted track compared to most other asteroid belt objects and astronomers still don’t know why it is on that unusual orbit.

“The Pallas job implies very high speeds,” says Michaël Marsset, a postdoc from MIT and the lead author of the newspaper.

‘From these images we can now say that Pallas is the most crater object we know in the asteroid belt. It’s like discovering a new world. “

The images of Pallas were taken by the SPHERE instrument in the Very Large Telescope array of the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

They were caught in 2017 and again in 2019 and involved reserving a telescope several days at a time to capture it closest to the earth.

They were able to capture Pallas photos from different angles as they rotated and then compared the images to create a 3D structure of the shape and the crater map.

They discovered that there were 36 craters larger than 18 miles wide and they covered at least 10 percent of the surface.

This is “suggestive of a violent collision history,” the researchers say.

They have performed a simulation of the life of Pallas for four billion years, to find out why it had so much impact compared to other major asteroids – Ceres and Vesta.

They discovered that Pallas was hit by smaller objects much more often than the other two bodies, which probably led to the large number of craters.

“Pallas experiences two to three times more collisions than Ceres or Vesta, and the tilted orbit is a simple explanation for the very weird surface that we don’t see on one of the other two asteroids,” Marsset says.

Functions followed by multiple rotation phase angles are yellow and named after ancient Greek weapon names

Functions followed by multiple rotation phase angles are yellow and named after ancient Greek weapon names

In the images of the asteroid, they found a huge impact basin on the equator – about 248 miles wide.

They say this was probably the result of a collision with a space rock more than 18 miles about 1.7 billion years ago that threw fragments of the asteroid into space.

Researchers say that these fragments can now be seen after the asteroid.

They also think that there is a significant salt deposit in the southern hemisphere of Pallas, as seen in a very clear spot in the images.

They think that the asteroid is made from a mixture of water ice and silicates and that the interior has melted over time, hydrated the silicates, and formed salt deposits that could be exposed to a collision.

“People have proposed missions to Pallas with small, cheap satellites,” says Marsset.

“I don’t know if they would happen, but they could tell us more about the surface of Pallas and the origin of the bright spot.”

The research is published in the journal Nature Astronomy.


Researchers have discovered most of the asteroids that are about a kilometer in size, but are now hunting for those of about 140 meters – because they can cause catastrophic damage.

Although no one knows when the next major impact will occur, scientists are under pressure to predict – and intercept – its arrival.

Artist's impression shown

Artist’s impression shown

“Sooner or later we will have … a small or large impact,” said Rolf Densing, head of the European Space Operations Center (ESOC) in Darmstadt

It may not happen in our lives, he said, but “the risk of ever being hit by a devastating event is very high.”

“For now there is little we can do.”

Source: AFP