Having praised “Citizen Science” in a previous post, I believe it is wise to call attention to one of the latest undertakings from the individuals at COSMOQuest.org. It is called Vesta Mappers; the aims of the endeavor are to map outstanding features of the “mini-world,” Vesta.
Vesta is found in the asteroid belt and it is one of the larger known bodies. It is known to be a rocky body; and also, known meteorites, from Vesta, have been found (on Earth). Vesta behaves somewhat like a “small, small planet”–it is nearly spheroidal and possesses a rotational period of approximately 5 hours and 10 minutes. The composition (according to JPL) appears similar to “lava flow-type” rock. I must emphatically emphasize–no one currently understands with certainty–how this “type” of mineral came to be in the middle of the asteroid belt. It is widely regarded that asteroids, such as Vesta, are remnants of the early Solar System. One little known fact is that the “body” of Vesta could fit into the entire Pacific Ocean–(amazing and cool)!
COSMOQuest link is found here: http://cosmoquest.org/mappers/vesta/
NASA link is found here: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/dawn/ceresvesta/index.html
JPL Dawn mission here: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/