Asteroid Vesta as seen by NASA's Dawn spacecraft.


We're seeing a shape model of Vesta created by the German Aerospace Center using images from Dawn's framing camera. Vesta is a large object in the main belt with a diameter of 575 kilometers and a shape which bulges at the equator.

When we look at the south pole of Vesta, we see a large circular depression, which scientists believe was caused by collision with another object.

This depression was also visible in Hubble Space Telescope images, but the features we see now are much more interesting. Flying over this feature, we see large cliffs, deep grooves and many types of liniments on the surface.

In the northern region of Vesta, there's a large feature we term the 'snowman,'a series of young craters.

There are also many variations in brightness on the surface. We see many small craters, grooves, and troughs, and bulges, as seen in this profile view near the equator of Vesta.

There are deep troughs as well as smaller groove features and these are telling us something about the history of Vesta. Its collisions with other objects and how the material on its surface has responded. And while these views of this unexplored world are fascinating scientists are looking forward to the eight times higher resolution that will be obtained in October from a lower orbit.

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
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