21 Lutetia
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Basic Information

21 Lutetia is a large asteroid located between Mars and Jupiter.

21 Lutetia has a high mass, and is significantly more dense than the typical rocky asteroid, possibly as dense as diamond. Scientists believe it may have a molten metal core surrounded by a cooler exterior, not unlike the Earth (though much smaller). Such a core would be a result of the extreme density, and a cause of the asteroid's strong magnetic field. 21 Lutetia may have once been accumulating materials toward becoming a planet, and just failed to gather enough mass to complete that process.

It is an asymmetrical, non-rounded asteroid with a several large impact craters. The northern pole of the asteroid is covered in regolith (loose rock and dust). It's diameter is 130 km (80 miles) at the widest part. It is believed to be about 3.6 million years old.

21 Lutetia was discovered by mankind in 1852. It was named for Lutetia, a city of the Roman Empire that was located roughly where Paris is today.

21 Lutetia was closely observed by the Rosetta spacecraft in 2010, and the announcement about the metal core made in 2011.

See Also:

News: Asteroid May Have Core Of Hot Molten Metal



Game and Story Use

  • Asteroid Mining - Iron, diamond, or more exotic minerals could be found inside 21 Lutetia's core.
  • Being a planetismal created when our solar system was still sorting itself out, this asteroid could be a time capsule of sorts. Elements inside it should reflect the way our Solar System "looked" millions of years ago, which would be very interesting to scientists in our real world.
      • And that "time capsule" could hold all sorts of ancient horrors in a Cthulhu Mythos game. What evils will be awakened or brought back by probes or teams sent to explore it?
  • Extremophile life might survive inside the core, especially if theories about panspermia are true.
  • Given it already has a hot core, 21 Lutetia might be a viable candidate for transforming into a bubbleworld. You already have a head start on the tasks of energizing and expanding the center.
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