This colorful composite image from NASA's Dawn mission shows the flow of material inside and outside a crater called Aelia on the giant asteroid Vesta. To the naked eye, these structures would not be seen. But here, they stand out in blue and red.
Target: Ceres Mission: Dawn Spacecraft: Dawn ID#: PIA17479
Closing in on Ceres
NASA's Dawn spacecraft will be getting an up-close look at the dwarf planet Ceres starting in late March or the beginning of April 2015. This graphic shows the science-gathering orbits planned for the spacecraft.
In this contrast-enhanced infrared image of Bellicia Crater on the giant asteroid Vesta, scientists from NASA's Dawn mission can see signs of the mineral olivine. Olivine was not expected to be found at Bellicia.
These two images compare topographic maps of the giant asteroid Vesta as discerned by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (top) and as seen by NASA's Dawn spacecraft (bottom). Hubble has been in an orbit around Earth, while Dawn orbited Vesta from 2011 to 2012.
These two maps of the giant asteroid Vesta show patterns of brightness from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (top) and NASA's Dawn spacecraft (bottom). Hubble's view is from an orbit around Earth. Dawn went into orbit around Vesta from 2011 to 2012.
This color-coded topography map from NASA's Dawn mission shows the giant asteroid Vesta in an equirectangular projection at 32 pixels per degree, relative to an ellipsoid of 177 miles by 177 miles by 142 miles.
Studying meteorites from the asteroid Vesta helps scientists understand the event known as the 'lunar cataclysm,' when a repositioning of the gas giant planets destabilized a portion of the asteroid belt and triggered a solar-system-wide bombardment.
Distribution of Vesta's Dark Materials, Southern View
This map shows the distribution of dark materials throughout the southern hemisphere of the giant asteroid Vesta. The circles, diamonds, and stars show where the dark material appears in craters, spots and topographic highs.
These mosaic images from NASA's Dawn mission show how dark, carbon-rich materials tend to speckle the rims of smaller craters or their immediate surroundings on the giant asteroid Vesta; Numisia Crater is shown at left.
This image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows a close up of part of the rim around the crater Canuleia on the giant asteroid Vesta. Canuleia, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter, is the large crater at the bottom-left of this image.
This image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft features the distinctive crater Canuleia on the giant asteroid Vesta. Canuleia, about 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter, is distinguished by the rays of bright material that streak out from it.
This map from NASA's Dawn mission indicates the presence of hydrated minerals on the giant asteroid Vesta about 30 degrees north latitude, in August 2011. At the time, it was winter in Vesta's northern hemisphere.
A distinctive 'pitted terrain' observed by NASA's Dawn mission on asteroid Vesta has also been seen on Mars. The morphologies of pits are similar on both bodies, with irregular shapes and sharp angles where pits share walls.