Dawn Mission Video Shows Vesta's Coat of Many Colors

These infrared and visible light images have been combined and represented in colors that highlight the nature of the minerals on Vesta's surface 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. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI
› Full image and caption
  • submit to reddit

June 06, 2012

PASADENA, Calif. - 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.

The video is available online at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/video/index.cfm?id=1085 .

The colors were chosen to highlight differences in surface composition 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 impact craters 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 southern hemisphere, 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 northern hemisphere 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. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va., designed and built the Dawn spacecraft. The framing cameras were developed and built under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin made significant contributions in coordination with the Institute of Computer and Communication Network Engineering in Braunschweig. The framing camera project is funded by the Max Planck Society, DLR and NASA. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information about Dawn, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/dawn and http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov .

Priscilla Vega / Jia-Rui Cook 818-354-1357/0850
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Priscilla.r.vega@jpl.nasa.gov / jccook@jpl.nasa.gov

2012-156

Animation


These infrared and visible light images have been combined and represented in colors that highlight the nature of the minerals on Vesta's surface

Vesta's Coat of Many Colors

Play video



Artist concept of NASA's Dawn spacecraft orbiting Ceres during an upcoming flyby. Dawn Operating Normally After Safe Mode Triggered

› Read more

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover has caught the first image of asteroids taken from the surface of Mars. Asteroids as Seen From Mars; A Curiosity Rover First

› Read more

The flight team for NASA's Dawn mission received the 2014 Trophy Dawn Wins National Air and Space Museum Trophy

› Read more


Get JPL Updates
Sign Up for JPL UpdatesRegister today and receive up-to-the-minute e-mail alerts delivered directly to your inbox.
Sign Up for JPL Updates