Variegated Surface of Asteroid Vesta

A new video from a NASA spacecraft shows the huge asteroid Vesta’s complex surface in dazzling and colorful detail. The video drapes high-resolution false color images snapped by NASA’s Dawn probe over a 3-D model of Vesta constructed from the spacecraft’s observations. This visualization enables a detailed view of the variation in the material properties of Vesta in the context of its topography.

Vesta is Actually an Ancient Protoplanet

New observations from a NASA Dawn spacecraft show that the huge asteroid Vesta is a battered protoplanet left over from the solar system’s early days, with a unique mix of characteristics unknown from any other space rock. Scientists had thought that Vesta, the second-largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, probably started down a planet-forming path shortly after the solar system’s birth. Many other Vesta-like objects were incorporated into rocky worlds such as Earth, but Vesta’s development along this path was halted.

Secrets of Giant Asteroid Vesta

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft reveal new details about the giant asteroid Vesta, including its varied surface composition, sharp temperature changes and clues to its internal structure. Images from Dawn’s framing camera and visible and infrared mapping spectrometer, taken 420 miles (680 kilometers) and 130 miles (210 kilometers) above the surface of the asteroid, show a variety of surface mineral and rock patterns.

Dawn Gets 40 Extra Days Time to Explore Vesta

NASA’s Dawn mission has received official confirmation that 40 extra days have been added to its exploration of the giant asteroid Vesta, the second most massive object in the main asteroid belt. The mission extension allows Dawn to continue its scientific observations at asteroid Vesta until August 26, while still arriving at the dwarf planet Ceres at the same originally scheduled target date in February 2015.

Dawn Sees Bright Spots on Giant Asteroid Vesta

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has revealed unexpected details on the surface of the giant asteroid Vesta. The new photos of Vesta from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft highlight odd, shiny spots that are nearly twice as bright as other parts of the asteroid, suggesting it is original material left over from the space rock’s birth 4 billion years ago, NASA officials said on March 21. With a width of about 330 miles (530 km), asteroid Vesta is one of the largest and brightest objects in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

Vesta Likely Cold and Dark Enough for Ice

According to the first published models of Vesta’s average global temperatures and illumination by the sun though generally thought to be quite dry, roughly half of the giant asteroid Vesta is expected to be so cold and to receive so little sunlight that water ice could have survived there for billions of years. According to Timothy Stubbs of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County near the north and south poles, the conditions appear to be favorable for water ice to exist beneath the surface. Vesta probably does not have any significant permanently shadowed craters where water ice could stay frozen on the surface all the time, not even in the roughly 300-mile-diameter (480-kilometer-diameter) crater near the south pole.

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