Close Encounter With Lutetia
Asteroid 21 Lutetia is exposed, craters and all, in a picture captured Saturday by the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft. Rosetta's close encounter with Lutetia revealed a battered world—a possible remnant from the birth of our solar system, astronomers say.
To snap the above image, Rosetta swooped about 1,965 miles (3,162 kilometers) above Lutetia's surface. The image is the highest-resolution photo taken of the space rock, located more than 270 million miles (440 million kilometers) away from Earth, between Mars and Jupiter. (Watch a video of Rosetta's flyby.)
The sharp edge visible above, at bottom, may be evidence that 81-mile-wide (130-kilometer-wide) Lutetia broke off from a "mother asteroid," said NASA space scientist Claudia Alexander, who led the United States' involvement in the Rosetta mission.