After the Rosetta probe had an up-close look of the Lutetia asteroid in July, experts have predicted the asteroid could be planetesimal, with some of its surface being 3.6 billion-years-old, thus giving scientists a clear look into the formation of planets.
Scientists determine that Lutetia, which sits in the orbit belt between Jupiter and Mars, dates back to the beginning of the solar system and was originally in the running to become a major planet but never matured to full planet adulthood.
According to deputy editor of Astronomy Now magazine Dr. Emily Baldwin, studying the composition of asteroids offers an insightful look into how earth and other planets were formed.
“Studies of asteroids are important not only to learn about the potential threat an impact may have on Earth but also to understand the history of our solar system,” she told the Sun Times.
The key clue which makes scientists dub Lutetia a premature planet is its potential heart of molten metal, which is similar to the earth’s heart.
According to MSNBC, the measurements of Lutetia prove that it is far denser than its fellow asteroids. This information, along with Lutetia’s large surface fractures, indicates the asteroid’s surface is porous, which led scientists to point to the possibility of a molten metal core.
"The asteroid belt may be more interesting than it seems on the surface," researcher Benjamin Weiss, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told msnbc.com.
Lutetia is 75 miles long, 63 miles tall and 47 miles wide, and has a density of 212 pounds per cubic foot.
Another asteroid, dubbed 2005 YU55, will whiz passed earth on Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 200,000 miles away.