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Asimov writing about Vesta
siravan
post Jul 26 2011, 05:01 PM
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While waiting for release of more images, I have a historical question about Vesta. I remember that back in late seventies or early eighties, I read a popular science book by Isaac Asimov, which had a chapter about Vesta. He mentioned that Vesta is visually the brightest of the asteroids, but of course, not the largest. He then states that the reason is the unusually high albedo of Vesta and that it should be covered by ice. Clearly, Vesta is rocky. Does any one of you guys (especially 'old timers') remember the historical background about this issue?
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Phil Stooke
post Jul 26 2011, 05:24 PM
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Today people do accept the idea of some ice on objects in the asteroid belt, but I don't recall anyone taking that idea seriously back in Asimov's time.

Phil


--------------------
... because the Solar System ain't gonna map itself.
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john_s
post Jul 26 2011, 07:26 PM
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Tom McCord and colleagues indentified pyroxene on Vesta, and noted the similarity of its spectrum to those of eucrite meteorites, back in 1970. So Asimov either wasn't aware of that work, or wrote what he wrote prior to 1970. Heres the ADS link to the 1970 paper
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siravan
post Jul 26 2011, 08:02 PM
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Phil and John, thanks a lot for your insight. I guess sometimes we underestimate what a great resource UMSF is!
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Mongo
post Jul 26 2011, 11:09 PM
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QUOTE (john_s @ Jul 26 2011, 07:26 PM) *
Tom McCord and colleagues indentified pyroxene on Vesta, and noted the similarity of its spectrum to those of eucrite meteorites, back in 1970. So Asimov either wasn't aware of that work, or wrote what he wrote prior to 1970. Heres the ADS link to the 1970 paper


I also remember reading that Asimov article when I was a kid, in one of the book-sized collections, so it had to have been published before the mid-1970s. My guess is that the original article must have been written sometime in the 1960s or late 1950s, when most of those collected Asimov articles were written.

edit -- I am thinking of the collected articles, not a stand-alone book, so I assume that he wrote about Vesta more than once.
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stevesliva
post Jul 26 2011, 11:59 PM
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Google book search, The Solar System and Back, 1970:
http://books.google.com/books?ei=J1QvTsKnA...a#search_anchor

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Mongo
post Jul 27 2011, 02:01 AM
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Wikipedia Article

The Solar System and Back (1970) is the seventh collection of Isaac Asimov's essays, reprinted from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF).

Book Review

Chapter 4: "Little Lost Satellite" (July 1968): the asteroids Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta

I will add that in my personal opinion, giving someone in their early teens the complete set of Asimov's F&SF essay collections would do more towards creating a lifelong interest in science than almost anything else, even with their general out-of-datedness.
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mchan
post Jul 27 2011, 07:59 AM
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Similarly, Asimov's "Lucky Starr" series of juvenile science fiction was one of the series of books that got me more interested in the science part of science fiction. They are good also for the historical perspective of what was known about the planets in the 1950's which was very little and often times wrong compared to current knowledge. I.e., they illustrate how UMSF (in the general sense) and technological progress in ground based astronomy have dramatically increased our views of the solar system.
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