Pallas (minor planet designation 2 Pallas) is a rocky asteroid in the Sol Belt with an unusual orbit that renders it highly remote from the greater Belt most of the time. Unlike the similarly massive Ceres and Vesta, Pallas was settled by humans in the 22nd century CE, and remains sparsely populated in the 2800s despite its size.
Pallas occupies an unusually elliptical and highly inclined orbit that passes through the main Belt
at two points (called ecliptic crossings). Its orbital period is in a roughly 1:1 resonance with Ceres
, whose orbit it directly intersects, so flights to Pallas are typically either launched from Earth
to coincide with Pallas' crossings, or launched from other Belt bodies to use Vesta
as an exoecliptic sling
The asteroid itself is reminiscent of Vesta in both appearance and structure; as a failed protoplanet, Pallas has a stratified interior and a surface covered in volcanic regolith. It is marked by an assortment of craters and long-dead faults, the largest of which hosts the small settlement of Yarkovsky. Named for Polish engineer Ivan Yarkovsky, who discovered the influence of photons on angular momentum, the city is primarily a mining outpost, though Pallas' unexpectedly volatile-rich soil has allowed a modest agricultural industry to arise within the habitat domes.
Pallas is one of only two known asteroids to have a stratified internal geology, thanks to its history as a failed protoplanet. The asteroid's crust is composed of volatile-rich igneous regolith, sitting atop a solid mantle of olivine. Like Vesta, Pallas' core is almost pure nickel-iron: a tantalizing prize for shafthoppers. Due to its remoteness, Pallas has been forced to become more self-sufficient than other Belt settlements, so its agriculture is more prominent than most other asteroids.