On 11 May 2011, the camera on board the Dawn spacecraft acquired its first picture of the asteroid Vesta. Despite its diameter of 530 kilometres, this heavenly body appeared as no more than a white dot in the image – at that time, the spacecraft was still 975,000 kilometres away from its destination.
A giant impact crater on its south pole; deep grooves around its equator; dark material on the craters that puzzles planetary researchers; and a mountain more than twice the height of Mount Everest.
Even though it doesn’t quite qualify as a 'proper' planet, the second most massive asteroid in the Solar System, Vesta – which has a diameter of approximately 530 kilometres – exhibits numerous planetary characteristics. This is just one of the many significant results of NASA's Dawn mission, published in the journal Science on 11 May 2012. The Dawn spacecraft has been orbiting Vesta since 16 July 2011. The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is involved in the mission.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been in its lowest orbit around asteroid Vesta since mid-December 2011. During November the orbit was gradually lowered to an altitude of 210 kilometres above the asteroid's surface.
No asteroid or rocky planet looks quite like the asteroid Vesta, which the US Dawn spacecraft has been orbiting since July 2011; countless craters, furrows and slopes define the landscape of this celestial body. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has produced a 3D film from the imagery recorded by the cameras on board the spacecraft.
Varied impact craters, valleys, canyons and mountains among the highest in the Solar System – the 3D images and videos of the asteroid Vesta created by scientists at the German Aerospace Center reveal a most unusual celestial body. The US Dawn spacecraft, carrying a German camera system on board, has been orbiting the asteroid since July 2011.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been in orbit around the asteroid Vesta since 16 July 2011. A German camera system on board is being used to acquire images of the asteroid's surface. These images show craters, hills and even shapes that remind the researchers of snowmen.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is another step closer to Vesta; only 5200 kilometres now separate the asteroid and its new ‘neighbour’, Dawn. The images show Vesta from ists south pole to areas in the northern hemisphere.
After almost four years traveling through space, the NASA Dawn spacecraft reached its destination and entered orbit around the asteroid Vesta on 16 July 2011. On board Dawn, among other instruments, is a Framing Camera for imaging the surface of the asteroid. Using data from this camera system, scientists at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) will create detailed maps and elevation models of this celestial body.
The images acquired by the German camera system on the US spacecraft Dawn are currently being used for navigation purposes in its journey to the asteroid Vesta. A film, created by the Dawn team researchers from individual images acquired at a distance of about 481,000 kilometres, already reveals how complex the surface of the asteroid is.