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Scientists gasp at snapshot of Gaspra.

The Galileo spacecraft recently sent back the best pictures yet of the asteroid Gaspra, snapped during the spacecraft's brief encounter with the asteroid last October. The new images have three times the resolution of previous images, providing scientists with more provocative clues about the asteroid's origin and its habitat.

In the new photos, deep grooves crisscross Gaspra's surface. Galileo team member Joseph Veverka of Cornell University suspects that the scrapes, which are about 10 to 20 meters deep, resulted from impacts with other objects. When considered along with Gaspra's highly irregular shape, the scrapes suggest the asteroid was splintered off from a much larger rock after several violent collisions.

NASA scientists also confirmed that Gaspra is pitted with several hundred craters, suggesting that the asteroid encounters mostly small objects in its orbital path around the sun. Planetary scientists calculate that the craters accumulated in just 200 million years. And they say they will require more time to decipher the story these pictures tell. "There are still lots of things we don't understand," Veverka notes.
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Title Annotation:pictures suggest collision with other space objects
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jun 27, 1992
Words:174
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