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The missing large impact craters on Ceres

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Asteroids provide fundamental clues to the formation and evolution of planetesimals. Collisional models based on the depletion of the primordial main belt of asteroids predict 10–15 craters >400 km should have

Asteroids provide fundamental clues to the formation and evolution of planetesimals. Collisional models based on the depletion of the primordial main belt of asteroids predict 10–15 craters >400 km should have formed on Ceres, the largest object between Mars and Jupiter, over the last 4.55 Gyr. Likewise, an extrapolation from the asteroid Vesta would require at least 6–7 such basins. However, Ceres’ surface appears devoid of impact craters >∼280 km. Here, we show a significant depletion of cerean craters down to 100–150 km in diameter. The overall scarcity of recognizable large craters is incompatible with collisional models, even in the case of a late implantation of Ceres in the main belt, a possibility raised by the presence of ammoniated phyllosilicates. Our results indicate that a significant population of large craters has been obliterated, implying that long-wavelength topography viscously relaxed or that Ceres experienced protracted widespread resurfacing.

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  • 2016-07-26

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The Chronostratigraphy of Protoplanet Vesta

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In this paper we present a time-stratigraphic scheme and geologic time scale for the protoplanet Vesta, based on global geologic mapping and other analyses of NASA Dawn spacecraft data, complemented

In this paper we present a time-stratigraphic scheme and geologic time scale for the protoplanet Vesta, based on global geologic mapping and other analyses of NASA Dawn spacecraft data, complemented by insights gained from laboratory studies of howardite–eucrite–diogenite (HED) meteorites and geophysical modeling. On the basis of prominent impact structures and their associated deposits, we propose a time scale for Vesta that consists of four geologic time periods: Pre-Veneneian, Veneneian, Rheasilvian, and Marcian. The Pre-Veneneian Period covers the time from the formation of Vesta up to the Veneneia impact event, from 4.6 Ga to >2.1 Ga (using the asteroid flux-derived chronology system) or from 4.6 Ga to 3.7 Ga (under the lunar-derived chronology system). The Veneneian Period covers the time span between the Veneneia and Rheasilvia impact events, from >2.1 to 1 Ga (asteroid flux-derived chronology) or from 3.7 to 3.5 Ga (lunar-derived chronology), respectively. The Rheasilvian Period covers the time span between the Rheasilvia and Marcia impact events, and the Marcian Period covers the time between the Marcia impact event until the present. The age of the Marcia impact is still uncertain, but our current best estimates from crater counts of the ejecta blanket suggest an age between ∼120 and 390 Ma, depending upon choice of chronology system used. Regardless, the Marcia impact represents the youngest major geologic event on Vesta. Our proposed four-period geologic time scale for Vesta is, to a first order, comparable to those developed for other airless terrestrial bodies.

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  • 2014-12-01