"Dawn" Spacecraft Orbits Asteroid "Vesta"
Stunning footage from NASA spacecraft "Dawn" orbiting the 350 mile large Asteroid "Vesta".
Put on your 3D Glasses to watch it in
"Vesta" is one of the largest asteroids with a diameter of about 350 miles (575 km) and is the brightest asteroid visible from Earth.
It is located in the asteroid belt, between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter.
"Dawn" is a NASA spacecraft tasked with the exploration and study of the two largest members of the asteroid belt ' Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.
Launched on September 27, 2007, Dawn reached Vesta on July 16, 2011, and will orbit and explore it until 2012. Dawn is NASA's first exploratory mission to use
A new video from NASA's Dawn spacecraft takes us on a flyover journey above the surface of the giant asteroid
Vesta. The data obtained by Dawn's framing camera, used to produce the visualizations, will help scientists determine the processes that formed Vesta's striking features. It will also help Dawn mission fans all over the world visualize this mysterious world, which is the second most massive object in the main asteroid belt.
You'll notice in the video that Vesta is not entirely lit up. There is no light in the high northern latitudes because, like Earth, Vesta has seasons. Currently it is northern winter on Vesta, and the northern polar region is in perpetual darkness. When we view Vesta's rotation from above the south pole, half is in darkness simply because half of Vesta is in daylight and half is in the darkness of night.
Another distinct feature seen in the video is a massive circular structure in the south pole region. Scientists were particularly eager to see this area close-up, since NASA's Hubble Space Telescope first detected it years ago. The circular structure, or depression, is several hundreds of miles, or kilometers, wide, with cliffs that are also several miles high. One impressive mountain in the center of the depression rises approximately 9 miles (15 kilometers) above the base of this depression, making it one of the highest elevations on all known bodies with solid surfaces in the solar system.
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