A Piece of Vesta Has Been Stolen!

Calling all meteorite collectors and enthusiasts! There’s a hot space rock at large and, as Indiana Jones would say, it belongs in a museum. Perhaps you can help put it back in one.

Mosaic synthesizes some of the best views the spacecraft had of the giant asteroid Vesta. Dawn studied Vesta. The towering mountain at the south pole - more than twice the height of Mount Everest - is visible at the bottom of the image. The set of three craters known as the "snowman" can be seen at the top left. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA
Mosaic of the asteroid Vesta made from images acquired by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA

On Aug. 19 a burglary was reported at the Sonnenborgh Museum and Observatory in Utrecht, Netherlands, and one of the items missing is a meteorite that is thought to have originated from the asteroid Vesta.

Seen above in a photo from the museum’s collection, the Meteorite of Serooskerken was recovered from a rare fall in 1925 in the province of Zeeland. Only five meteorites have ever been found in the Netherlands, making the Serooskerken specimen somewhat of a national treasure – not to mention a valuable piece of our Solar System’s history!

About 5–6% of all the meteorites found on Earth are thought to be from Vesta, the second-largest world in the main asteroid belt. (Source)

It doesn’t sound like the meteorite was the target of the burglary, but rather it just happened to be included with other things taken from the museum’s safe.

If you have any information on the burglary or see this meteorite offered up for sale anywhere, please report it to the Sonnenborgh Museum here.

If you are a Dutch-speaker, audio of the news can be found here. (Any translations would be welcome in the comments!)

HT to Google+ Space Community member Andre van der Hoeven.

Enterprise Arrives at the Big Apple

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Icons of America are captured together in a fantastic photo by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls, taken on the morning of April 27, 2012 from Jersey City, NJ. The Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building… and Enterprise, the first space shuttle, seen as it was ferried toward its eventual new home at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

After several days of delays due to weather, the SCA with mounted Enterprise took off from Washington Dulles International Airport this morning.

Watch a video of Enterprise flying over New York here.

Enterprise was the first shuttle built for NASA. It was used to conduct test flights in the atmosphere and never flew into space, yet the data gathered from its experimental flights were integral to the development of the shuttle program.

Originally housed at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Enterprise will be demated from the SCA (Shuttle Carrier Aircraft) and placed on a barge that will travel on a 2-day trip up the Hudson to the Intrepid Museum on June 4.

Enterprise departs Dulles on Friday, April 27. (NASA/Smithsonian Institution/Mark Avino)
Enterprise over Manhattan, its future home seen below. (Click for description.) NASA/Robert Markowitz.

Enterprise will open for display to the public on July 19.

See more details on the Intrepid Museum’s website.