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: SpaceX making Easter delivery of station supplies (Update 2)

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

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

54 minutes ago

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

Apr 18, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

Apr 18, 2014

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Cosmologists weigh cosmic filaments and voids

(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have established that much of the stuff of the universe is made of dark matter, a mysterious, invisible substance that can't be directly detected but which exerts a gravitational ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...