Dawn mission video shows Vesta's coat of many colors

Jun 07, 2012 By Priscilla Vega and Jia-Rui Cook
This animation of Vesta is made from images taken with Dawn's framing camera. Many of the images were taken at different viewing angles to provide stereo for use in determining the topography. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI

(Phys.org) -- A new video from NASA's Dawn mission reveals the dappled, variegated surface of the giant asteroid Vesta. The animation drapes high-resolution false color images over a 3-D model of the Vesta terrain constructed from Dawn's observations. This visualization enables a detailed view of the variation in the material properties of Vesta in the context of its topography.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This animation of Vesta is made from images taken with Dawn's framing camera. Many of the images were taken at different viewing angles to provide stereo for use in determining the topography.

The colors were chosen to highlight differences in that are too subtle for the human eye to see. Scientists are still analyzing what some of the colors mean for the composition of the surface. But it is clear that the orange material thrown out from some is different from the surrounding surface material. Green shows the relative abundance of iron. Parts of the huge impact basin known as Rheasilvia in Vesta's , for instance, have areas with less iron than nearby areas.

Dawn has imaged the majority of the surface of Vesta with the framing camera to provide this 3-D map. While some areas in the north were in shadow at the time the images were obtained by the camera, Dawn expects to improve its coverage of Vesta's with additional observations. Dawn's viewing geometry also prevented mapping of a portion of the mountain of the south pole.

The spacecraft is currently spiraling up from its lowest-altitude orbit into its final science orbit, where its average altitude will be about 420 miles (680 kilometers). Dawn is scheduled to leave Vesta around Aug. 26.

The Dawn mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

Explore further: Computer model shows moon's core surrounded by liquid and it's caused by Earth's gravity

Related Stories

Dawn spacecraft spirals down to lowest orbit

Dec 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Dawn spacecraft successfully maneuvered into its closest orbit around the giant asteroid Vesta today, beginning a new phase of science observations. The spacecraft is now circling Vesta ...

Dawn gets extra time to explore Vesta

Apr 19, 2012

(Phys.org) -- 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. ...

Dawn beams back asteroid science data

Aug 12, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Dawn spacecraft has completed a graceful spiral into the first of four planned science orbits during the spacecraft's yearlong visit to Vesta. The spacecraft started taking detailed observations ...

Dawn sends first low altitude images of Vesta

Dec 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Dawn spacecraft has sent back the first images of the giant asteroid Vesta from its low-altitude mapping orbit. The images, obtained by the framing camera, show the stippled and lumpy ...

NASA's Dawn science team presents early science results

Oct 13, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists with NASA's Dawn mission are sharing with other scientists and the public their early information about the southern hemisphere of the giant asteroid Vesta. The findings were presented ...

Dawn soars over asteroid Vesta in 3-D

Dec 02, 2011

Glide over the giant asteroid Vesta with NASA's Dawn spacecraft in a new 3-D video.  Dawn has been orbiting Vesta since July 15, obtaining high-resolution images of its bumpy, cratered surface and making ...

Recommended for you

Titan offers clues to atmospheres of hazy planets

16 hours ago

When hazy planets pass across the face of their star, a curious thing happens. Astronomers are not able to see any changes in the range of light coming from the star and planet system.

Having fun with the equation of time

16 hours ago

If you're like us, you might've looked at a globe of the Earth in elementary school long before the days of Google Earth and wondered just what that strange looking figure eight thing on its side was.

The source of the sky's X-ray glow

Jul 27, 2014

In findings that help astrophysicists understand our corner of the galaxy, an international research team has shown that the soft X-ray glow blanketing the sky comes from both inside and outside the solar system.

User comments : 0