Scientists have now discovered that studying meteorites from the giant asteroid Vesta helps scientists understand the event known as the "Lunar Cataclysm," when a repositioning of the gas giant planets destabilized a portion of the asteroid belt and triggered a solar-system-wide bombardment. Previously, researchers had only lunar samples to work with. Scientists are now using a class of meteorites known as howardite, eucrite and diogenite meteorites, that are connected to Vesta to study the lunar cataclysm, providing about three times more samples to analyze.
The left-hand mosaic of the far side of the moon is based on data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. On the right is an image of the giant asteroid Vesta from data obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The insets show thin sections of the lunar sample 10069-13 and eucrite NWA1978. Image credit: NASA/GSFC/ASU/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA