Asteroid May Have Core Of Hot Molten Metal
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October 27, 2011

According to articles in the journal Science, German scientists have determined that the asteroid 21 Lutetia has an unusually high density, suggesting that it may have a molten core like the Earth.

Lutetia is one of the larger objects in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter, and the data on it was gathered by the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe, which gave scientists their first close look at the asteroid. Images taken by Rosetta's Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS), gave scientists a close estimate for Lutetia's size and shape and analysis of the asteroid's gravitiational field allowed them to calculate it's density; which seems to be much greater than that of most other asteroids in the main belt. A molten, metallic core might account for this density.

It might also explain why some meteorites that land on Earth are magnetic. If some asteroids, like Lutetia, have molten cores, they could concievably generate their own magnetic field, the way the Earth does. Magnetic meteorites could have originated as parts of a planetary body like Lutetia.


Game and Story Use

  • In a near future science fiction campaign; the PCs might be sent to Lutetia or another large asteroid to determine it's composition.
  • The asteroid's molten core may give a technobabble excuse for other unexpected qualites. (Weird life forms, for example).
  • Such an asteroid might be a desirable place on which to establish a base, as the core can be used as an energy source.
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