Professor’s Work on NASA Dawn Spacecraft Reveals Secrets of Large Asteroid

Harry “Hap” McSween, Chancellor’s Professor and Distinguished Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, presented findings of a mission investigating the asteroid Vesta at a press conference held at NASA headquarters on Thursday.

McSween is a co-investigator for the Dawn spacecraft mission, which has been circling Vesta since last July and is slated to stay until August 26. He is the lead for the Surface Composition Working Group, which uses all three Dawn instruments to determine the minerals and chemicals that comprise the surface of the asteroid.

McSween is co-author of five of six Science papers which yielded new insights into Vesta’s creation and relation to the terrestrial planets and Earth’s moon. Among the discoveries, scientists have confirmed a variety of ways Vesta more closely resembles a small planet or Earth’s moon than another asteroid.

Read the NASA press release here.

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