Vesta (minor planet designation 4 Vesta) is a rocky asteroid in the Sol Belt, second only to Ceres in both mass and volumetric size. It was the first of the belt objects to be settled, and the second asteroid ever colonized by humans. Given these facts as well as its convenient orbital location in the ecliptic range of the main Belt, Vesta is a hub of activity in this part of the system, supplying asteroid miners with the food, water, fuel, and raw resources needed for their highly profitable trade.
Vesta is one of only two known asteroids to have a stratified internal geology, thanks to its history as a failed protoplanet. Unlike Ceres, the surface of Vesta is not covered in clays; rather, the outer layer of the asteroid is simply igneous regolith, composed of various mineral oxides not particularly useful for mass smeltery. The mantle, too, is largely olivine and other volcanic minerals. However, the core of the asteroid is almost pure nickel-iron: a tantalizing prize for shafthoppers. Volatiles, including water, are scarce on the object, and must be imported from elsewhere.