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Meteors, Asteroids and Comets
Simulation of Massilia crater on Lutetia


This image shows a series of snapshots obtained from a computer simulation used to model the impact that created Massilia, the largest crater identified on Lutetia. As shown in the first snapshot, when a small cosmic body hits a large asteroid such as Lutetia, first a bowl-shaped cavity is produced on the asteroid's surface, while cracks start developing in the interior up to the surface due to propagation and reflection of stress waves from the impact. At the same time, streams of strongly shocked material – including a mixture of debris from both the 'projectile' and the target – arise from the crater, as indicated by the wing-shaped features visible in the first three snapshots. This debris will eventually fall back onto the asteroid's surface and coat the regions near the crater. In about an hour, the crater has already evolved into its final configuration, as shown in the fourth snapshot. This consists of a wider structure that formed via the collapse of the cavity's relatively steep rim onto the floor. While this process results in the production of a damaged layer close to the surface, the interior of the asteroid does not bear signs of substantial damage, except for some fractures close to the impact site and at its antipodes. Credit: from Cremonese et al., Planetary and Space Science Special Issue, 2012

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