First asteroid found within Venus’s orbit could be a clue to missing ‘mantle’ asteroids

Nola Redd | Science Magazine
Thursday, July 2, 2020

Earlier this year, astronomers discovered an oddball asteroid inside the orbit of Venus—the first member of a predicted flock near the Sun. No bigger than a small mountain, the asteroid has now gained another distinction: It appears to be rich in the mineral olivine, which makes up much of Earth’s deep rock. Some astronomers think that is a clue to a larger set of asteroids, never properly accounted for, that was forged early in the formation of the Solar System.

“It’s improbable that we look at this new population and an olivine-dominated object is the first type we see,” says Francesca DeMeo, an asteroid hunter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not part of the discovery team. “That’s what makes this a cool result.”

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Story Image: The first Vatira, 2020 AV2, may point to asteroids resembling Earth’s mantle. (Equinox Graphics/Science Source)