Dawn mission became the first spacecraft to orbit the second largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The northern half of Vesta, seen on the upper left of the above image, appears to show some of the densest cratering in the Solar System, while the southern half is unexpectedly smooth. Also unknown is the origin of grooves that circle the asteroid nears its equator, particularly visible on this Vesta rotation movie, and the nature of dark streaks that delineate some of Vesta's craters, for example the crater just above the the image center. As Dawn spirals in toward Vesta over the coming months, some answers may emerge, as well as higher resolution and color images. Studying 500-km diameter Vesta is yielding clues about its history and the early years of our Solar System.
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NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.
Based on Astronomy Picture Of the Day
Publications with keywords: spacecraft - Vesta - craters
Publications with words: spacecraft - Vesta - craters