The Dawn space probe at Asteroid Vesta

The most thrilling event that recently occurred in international planetary research was the mission of NASA's Dawn space probe to the asteroid Vesta. In 2011 and 2012, the orbiter explored the third-largest and second-heaviest body between Mars and Jupiter. Developed in Germany, its camera system photographed the 500-kliometre planetoid from three orbits at different altitudes. Scientists were endlessly astonished when it emerged that Vesta comes close to being classed as a planet in the asteroid belt. Image data were evaluated at DLR and the topography and exact shape of the body were computed. At the end of August 2012, Dawn took leave of Vesta; it is now making tracks for the dwarf planet Ceres, which it will reach in 2015.

Last modified: 10/09/2012 16:18:15

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The Rheasilvia impact basin on Vesta's south pole

The Rheasilvia impact basin on Vesta's south pole

This false colour topographic map of Vesta's south pole shows parts of the 500-kilometre Rheasilvia impact basin in shades of blue. In the centre of the structure is a striking 20-kilometre high mountain shown in green, yellow and red tones. The global surface topographic model of Vesta was generated by DLR scientists using thousands of individual images through stereo photogrammetry.