Dawn - Mis­sion to Ves­ta and Ceres

Dawn – one mission, two heavenly bodies

Dawn – one mis­sion, two heav­en­ly bod­ies

March 2, 2015  NASA’s Dawn space­craft was launched on 27 Septem­ber 2007. On 16 Ju­ly 2011, it ar­rived at the as­ter­oid Ves­ta, which it ex­plored un­til 5 Septem­ber 2012. The space­craft then de­part­ed for the dwarf plan­et Ceres, where it will ar­rive on 6 March 2015. The Dawn mis­sion is the first to suc­ces­sive­ly study two ce­les­tial bod­ies from or­bit.


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Image 1/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
An encounter with Ceres

An en­counter with Ceres

January 27, 2015  The NASA Dawn space­craft will ar­rive at the dwarf plan­et Ceres on 6 March 2015. Once there, it will record the sur­face with the Ger­man-de­vel­oped Fram­ing Cam­era. This im­age was ac­quired from a dis­tance of 237,000 kilo­me­tres from the dwarf plan­et.


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Image 2/42, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).
Two Faces of Ceres

Two Faces of Ceres

February 18, 2015  These two views of Ceres were ac­quired by NASA's Dawn space­craft on Feb. 12, 2015, from a dis­tance of about 52,000 miles (83,000 kilo­me­ters) as the dwarf plan­et ro­tat­ed. The im­ages, which were tak­en about 10 hours apart, have been mag­ni­fied from their orig­i­nal size. The Dawn space­craft is due to ar­rive at Ceres on March 6, 2015.


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Image 3/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
Ceres half in shadow

Ceres half in shad­ow

March 2, 2015  These im­ages of dwarf plan­et Ceres were ac­quired on 25 Febru­ary 2015, at a dis­tance of 40,000 kilo­me­tres, by the Ger­man-built Fram­ing Cam­era on board NASA's Dawn space­craft. The im­age res­o­lu­tion is 3.7 kilo­me­tres per pix­el.


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Image 4/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
View of Ceres

View of Ceres

March 6, 2015  This im­age of the dwarf plan­et Ceres was ac­quired on 1 March 2015, by the Ger­man-built Fram­ing Cam­era on board NASA’s Dawn space­craft, from a dis­tance of 49,000 kilo­me­tres. The im­age res­o­lu­tion is 4.6 kilo­me­tres per pix­el. This is the last im­age ac­quired be­fore Dawn en­tered or­bit around Ceres. Dur­ing this ma­noeu­vre, no fur­ther imag­ing was pos­si­ble be­cause Dawn could not point its in­stru­ments to­wards the sur­face of the dwarf plan­et.


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Image 5/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
A new side of Ceres

A new side of Ceres

February 10, 2015  This im­age shows a side of dwarf plan­et Ceres not pre­vi­ous­ly im­aged by NASA’s Dawn space­craft. Cere’s sur­face is cov­ered with sev­er­al bright spots and im­pres­sive craters - some of which fea­ture a cen­tral moun­tain. The pic­ture was tak­en by the cam­era sys­tem on board Dawn on 4 Febru­ary 2015 from a dis­tance of 145 000 kilo­me­ters.


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Image 6/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Bright patches on Ceres

Bright patch­es on Ceres

February 27, 2015  There are sev­er­al un­usu­al­ly bright patch­es on the sur­face of Ceres. The bright­est of these is in the mid­dle of a large im­pact crater and is clear­ly vis­i­ble in this im­age. It is al­so ob­vi­ous that there is an­oth­er, slight­ly less bright re­gion, ap­par­ent­ly in the same im­pact basin. The Ger­man-built Fram­ing Cam­era on board NASA’s Dawn space­craft ac­quired this im­age on 19 Febru­ary 2015, from near­ly 46,000 kilo­me­tres away.


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Image 7/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
White spots on Ceres

White spots on Ceres

April 20, 2015  The white spots in a crater on Ceres can be seen at the top of this im­age, which was ac­quired by the Dawn or­biter on 15 April 2015.


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Image 8/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Chain of mountains in Urvara crater

Chain of moun­tains in Ur­vara crater

August 25, 2015  This im­age was ac­quired by the Fram­ing Cam­era on board the Dawn space­craft on 19 Au­gust 2015. From an al­ti­tude of 1470 kilo­me­tres, the in­te­ri­or of Ur­vara Crater is vis­i­ble. A moun­tain range can be seen in the low­er left cor­ner of the im­age, and the crater rim can be ob­served to the right of the im­age.


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Image 9/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Rocks and craters on Ceres

Rocks and craters on Ceres

August 25, 2015  This im­age of the dwarf plan­et Ceres was ac­quired on 19 Au­gust 2015 by the Dawn space­craft from a dis­tance of 1470 kilo­me­tres. It shows a six-kilo­me­tre high, pyra­mid-shaped moun­tain in the south­ern hemi­sphere be­tween the craters Kir­nis, Ron­go and Yalode. Note the bright stripes on its steep slopes. The im­age res­o­lu­tion is 140 me­tres per pix­el.


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Image 10/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Gaue crater on Ceres

Gaue crater on Ceres

August 25, 2015  This im­age of Gaue crater on the dwarf plan­et Ceres was ac­quired on 18 Au­gust 2015. The 84-kilo­me­tre di­am­e­ter crater par­tial­ly over­laps an old­er crater. The im­age was ac­quired by the Dawn Fram­ing Cam­era from a dis­tance of 1470 kilo­me­tres from the sur­face .


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Image 11/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
Ceres – a surface covered in craters

Ceres – a sur­face cov­ered in craters

March 2, 2015  This mo­sa­ic shows the sur­face of the dwarf plan­et Ceres and is com­posed of im­ages ac­quired by the Ger­man-built Fram­ing Cam­era on board NASA's Dawn mis­sion on 19 Febru­ary 2015. The dis­tance be­tween the cam­era and Ceres was 46,000 kilo­me­tres and the im­age res­o­lu­tion is four kilo­me­tres per pix­el.


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Image 12/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
Huge troughs on Vesta – a result of mega impacts at the south pole

Huge troughs on Ves­ta – a re­sult of mega im­pacts at the south pole

May 9, 2012  As NASA’s Dawn space­craft sent the first im­ages of Ves­ta back to Earth in Ju­ly 2011, sci­en­tists im­me­di­ate­ly no­ticed nu­mer­ous troughs, as if carved with a gi­gan­tic plough. This im­age shows two troughs in the Di­valia Fos­sa sys­tem, run­ning par­al­lel to the low­er edge of the im­age. The ma­jor­i­ty of these troughs ex­tend along the equa­tor, but a sec­ond group – in­clined with re­spect to the equa­tor – have been iden­ti­fied in the north­ern hemi­sphere. These par­al­lel trench­es are usu­al­ly sev­er­al hun­dred kilo­me­tres long, up to 15 kilo­me­tres wide and more than one kilo­me­tre in depth. They are the re­sult of two large as­ter­oid im­pacts at the South Pole, demon­strat­ing that im­pact events that oc­curred hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres apart caused shocks through­out Ves­ta and al­tered its sur­face.


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Image 13/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
The topography of Vesta’s south pole

The to­pog­ra­phy of Ves­ta’s south pole

September 14, 2011  From stereo im­ages ob­tained with Dawn’s fram­ing cam­era, sci­en­tists were able to pro­duce a glob­al shape mod­el of as­ter­oid Ves­ta. With di­am­e­ters be­tween 458 and 578 kilo­me­tres, Ves­ta is not a spher­i­cal body, so its sur­face to­pog­ra­phy is ref­er­enced to the the­o­ret­i­cal sur­face of a three-ax­i­al el­lip­soidal body with se­mi-ma­jor ax­es of 289 kilo­me­tres, 280 kilo­me­tres, and 229 kilo­me­tres, re­spec­tive­ly. On Earth, we ref­er­ence all to­pog­ra­phy to the spher­i­cal ‘sur­face’ of our glob­al ocean lev­el. The im­age shows the el­e­va­tion of sur­face struc­tures above or be­low this el­lip­soidal body with a hor­i­zon­tal res­o­lu­tion of about 750 me­tres per pix­el. The ter­rain mod­el of Ves­ta’s south­ern hemi­sphere shows a re­mark­able cir­cu­lar struc­ture with a di­am­e­ter of about 500 kilo­me­tres, its rim ris­ing above the in­te­ri­or of the struc­ture for more than 15 kilo­me­tres. From low-res­o­lu­tion im­ages of the Hub­ble Space Tele­scope it was known that a big de­pres­sion ex­ist­ed at Ves­ta’s south pole, and was sus­pect­ed to be a big im­pact basin. Dawn sci­en­tists are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pro­cess­es that formed this struc­ture.


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Image 14/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
Perspective view of a part of the edge of the south pole basin on Vesta

Per­spec­tive view of a part of the edge of the south pole basin on Ves­ta

September 14, 2011  A vis­i­tor from Earth would en­counter a dra­mat­ic land­scape at Ves­ta's south pole: cliffs sev­er­al kilo­me­tres high, deep trench­es and craters which have formed the south­ern tip of this fas­ci­nat­ing pro­to­plan­et in the as­ter­oid belt, and a moun­tain mas­sif up to 15 kilo­me­tres high. For the sci­en­tists work­ing on the Dawn mis­sion, it is not yet clear how this wild land­scape was formed – col­li­sions with oth­er as­ter­oids con­tribut­ed, but al­so the in­ter­nal pro­cess­es that played a role dur­ing the as­ter­oid’s ear­ly for­ma­tion phas­es. This di­ag­o­nal view was de­rived from a glob­al dig­i­tal el­e­va­tion mod­el of the as­ter­oid cre­at­ed from stereo im­age da­ta ob­tained with the Ger­man Fram­ing Cam­era on board NASA's Dawn space probe at an al­ti­tude of 2420 kilo­me­tres above Ves­ta's sur­face. The im­ages, which were ac­quired dur­ing Dawn's ob­ser­va­tion or­bit, have a res­o­lu­tion of about 250 me­tres per pix­el.


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Image 15/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Craters and grooves

Craters and grooves

August 29, 2011  NASA's Dawn space­craft ac­quired this im­age of the sur­face of Ves­ta with its Fram­ing Cam­era, us­ing the clear fil­ter, on 11 Au­gust 2011. The im­age has a res­o­lu­tion of about 260 me­tres per pix­el.


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Image 16/42, Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA
Dark hills

Dark hills

August 29, 2011  NASA's Dawn space­craft ac­quired this im­age of the sur­face of Ves­ta with the Fram­ing Cam­era, us­ing the clear fil­ter, on 12 Au­gust 2011. The im­age has a res­o­lu­tion of about 260 me­tres per pix­el.


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Image 17/42, Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA
Mosaic of Vesta's equatorial region

Mo­sa­ic of Ves­ta's equa­to­ri­al re­gion

August 1, 2011  The im­age shows a mo­sa­ic of Ves­ta’s equa­to­ri­al re­gion (30°N to 30°S). The mo­sa­ic is com­posed of ob­ser­va­tions tak­en through the panchro­mat­ic fil­ter and ob­tained on 24 Ju­ly 2011 as part of a ro­ta­tion char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion se­quence (RC3); it has a scale of about 400 me­tres per pix­el and shows im­pact craters of dif­fer­ent sizes, grooves par­al­lel to the equa­tor and dark fea­tures with­in some of the craters. The mo­sa­ic is in equidis­tant map pro­jec­tion, based on a dig­i­tal ter­rain mod­el from RC3a/OP­NAV18/RC2 and Lam­ber­tian pho­to­met­ri­cal­ly cor­rect­ed.


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Image 18/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Vesta's equatorial region in false colours

Ves­ta's equa­to­ri­al re­gion in false colours

August 29, 2011  NASA's Dawn space­craft ac­quired this false-colour im­age with its Fram­ing Cam­era on 25 Ju­ly 2011. The red–green tones show an in­crease in lu­mi­nos­i­ty in the vis­i­ble con­tin­u­um, while the green tones show its rel­a­tive de­crease in the near in­frared caused by iron-con­tain­ing min­er­als.


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Image 19/42, Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA
Up and down on Vesta's crater-strewn surface

Up and down on Ves­ta's crater-strewn sur­face

August 29, 2011  NASA's Dawn space­craft ob­tained this im­age with the Fram­ing Cam­era on 11 Au­gust 2011 us­ing the clear fil­ter. The im­age has a res­o­lu­tion of about 260 me­tres per pix­el.


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Image 20/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Anaglyphs of the 'Snowman Crater'

Anaglyphs of the 'Snow­man Crater'

August 29, 2011  This anaglyph im­age shows the to­pog­ra­phy of a set of three craters on Ves­ta that, due to their un­usu­al ar­range­ment, have in­for­mal­ly been nick­named 'Snow­man' by the cam­era's team mem­bers. The im­age da­ta was ac­quired us­ing the Fram­ing Cam­era on board NASA's Dawn space­craft on 6 Au­gust 2011. The im­age has a res­o­lu­tion of about 260 me­tres per pix­el. If you would like to view this im­age in 3D, you must use red-green (or red-blue) glass­es (left: red; right: green [blue]).


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Image 21/42, Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA
Scarp in the south polar region

Scarp in the south po­lar re­gion

August 29, 2011  NASA's Dawn space­craft ac­quired this im­age with its Fram­ing Cam­era, us­ing the clear fil­ter, on 12 Au­gust 2011. The im­age has a res­o­lu­tion of about 260 me­tres per pix­el.


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Image 22/42, Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA
Global photo mosaic of Vesta

Glob­al pho­to mo­sa­ic of Ves­ta

November 22, 2011  The first glob­al map of the as­ter­oid Ves­ta gen­er­at­ed from im­ages ac­quired with the Fram­ing Cam­era. In Ju­ly and Au­gust 2011, Dawn or­bit­ed the third largest ob­ject in the as­ter­oid belt ini­tial­ly in a 'map­ping or­bit' at an al­ti­tude of about 2400 kilo­me­tres above its sur­face. In do­ing so, the cam­era ac­quired hun­dreds of im­ages with a spa­tial res­o­lu­tion of about 250 me­tres per pix­el. What is re­ferred to as ‘sim­ple cylin­dri­cal pro­jec­tion’ was se­lect­ed for the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of this glob­al map. In this map pro­jec­tion the south pole is not a point but is ex­tend­ed as a line the length of the equa­tor. Thus, the south pole cov­ers the en­tire low­er edge of the im­age and all char­ac­ter­is­tics of this re­gion are rep­re­sent­ed in dis­tor­tion. The spa­tial res­o­lu­tion of the pho­to is 750 me­tres per pix­el.


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Image 23/42, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Pseudo-true colour image of the three 'Snowman' craters

Pseu­do-true colour im­age of the three 'Snow­man' craters

May 9, 2012  Three im­pact craters of dif­fer­ent sizes, ar­ranged in the shape of a snow­man, make up one of the most strik­ing fea­tures on Ves­ta. In this view the three 'snow­balls' are up­side down, so that the shad­ows make the fea­tures eas­i­ly recog­nis­able. North is to the low­er right in the im­age, which has a res­o­lu­tion of 70 me­tres per pix­el. The im­age is com­posed of many in­di­vid­u­al pho­tographs tak­en dur­ing the high-al­ti­tude map­ping or­bit, at about 680 kilo­me­tres above Ves­ta's sur­face. The largest of the three craters, Mar­cia, has a di­am­e­ter of 60 kilo­me­tres. The cen­tral crater, which is about 50 kilo­me­tres in di­am­e­ter, is named Calpur­nia, and the low­er crater, named Min­u­cia, has a di­am­e­ter of about 22 kilo­me­tres. Mar­cia and Calpur­nia are pos­si­bly the re­sult of an im­pact by dou­blet as­ter­oids, where­as Min­u­cia was formed by a lat­er im­pact. To de­rive the colour in­for­ma­tion, im­ages ac­quired by the Ger­man cam­era sys­tem on the Dawn space­craft in two near-in­frared chan­nels (917 nanome­tres and 749 nanome­tres) and an ul­tra­vi­o­let chan­nel (438 nanome­tres) were com­bined to cre­ate what is re­ferred to as a pseu­do-true colour im­age. The true colours of the sur­face of Ves­ta ap­pear some­what dif­fer­ent, but the sub­tle changes in ma­te­ri­al prop­er­ties across the craters and im­pact ejec­ta can be de­tect­ed. In both Mar­cia and Calpur­nia, land­slides can be seen; al­so, dark ma­te­ri­al has been ex­posed be­low the rim of Mar­cia.


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Image 24/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
The topographical map reveals a double impact at Vesta’s south pole

The to­po­graph­i­cal map re­veals a dou­ble im­pact at Ves­ta’s south pole

May 9, 2012  Ob­ser­va­tions with the Hub­ble Space Tele­scope hint­ed that the south pole of the ap­prox­i­mate­ly 500-kilo­me­tre as­ter­oid Ves­ta was some­what flat­tened. With the im­ages ac­quired by the Dawn space­craft, it be­came ob­vi­ous that there is a huge im­pact basin, with a di­am­e­ter of 500 kilo­me­tres. It has been named Rheasil­via, af­ter one of the Vestal Vir­gins of an­cient Rome. DLR has com­put­ed to­po­graph­i­cal maps of as­ter­oid’s sur­face from stereo­scop­ic im­age da­ta; these re­veal the ex­tent of this cos­mic col­li­sion (red and white – el­e­vat­ed ar­eas; green and blue – low re­gions). The im­pact left a 500-kilo­me­tre wide and, in some places, more than 10-kilo­me­tre deep basin sur­round­ed by a ring of el­e­vat­ed rock. In the cen­tre of Rheasil­via is a more than 20-kilo­me­tre high cen­tral peak. What sur­prised the re­searchers was the dis­cov­ery of a sec­ond, old­er basin with a di­am­e­ter of 400 kilo­me­tres, which was named Veneneia. In the right-hand im­age, dashed lines in­di­cate the out­lines of Rheasil­via and Veneneia. The cen­tres of the basins are each marked with an ‘X’.


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Image 25/42, Credit: Science/AAAS
The Rheasilvia impact basin on Vesta's south pole

The Rheasil­via im­pact basin on Ves­ta's south pole

August 14, 2012  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.


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Image 26/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
Landslides in Marcia crater

Land­slides in Mar­cia crater

August 30, 2012  Mar­cia is a 58-kilo­me­tre di­am­e­ter crater near Ves­ta's equa­tor. The to­pog­ra­phy of the crater is a bit un­usu­al, as it does not have the typ­i­cal bowl shape, like that of a crater on the Moon. This is like­ly the re­sult of mass move­ments in the in­te­ri­or of the crater. Ma­te­ri­al from Mar­cia's right edge slid to its in­te­ri­or, form­ing a shal­low­er slope. The im­age shows de­tails up to a size of 70 me­tres.


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Image 27/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Overview of the asteroid Vesta

Overview of the as­ter­oid Ves­ta

September 10, 2013  Sci­en­tists from the Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (Deutsches Zen­trum für Luft- und Raum­fahrt; DLR) have cre­at­ed an at­las of Ves­ta from about 10,000 in­di­vid­u­al im­ages of the as­ter­oid. The cam­era or­bit­ed the as­ter­oid on board NASA’s Dawn space­craft.


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Image 28/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
South pole of Vesta

South pole of Ves­ta

September 10, 2013  This im­age shows the south po­lar re­gion of as­ter­oid Ves­ta. The map was cre­at­ed by the Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (Deutsches Zen­trum für Luft- und Raum­fahrt; DLR).


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Image 29/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Colour-coded map of Vesta

Colour-cod­ed map of Ves­ta

September 10, 2013  The cam­era on board the Dawn space­craft im­aged the as­ter­oid Ves­ta from an al­ti­tude of 210 kilo­me­tres. Plan­e­tary re­searchers at the Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (Deutsches Zen­trum für Luft- und Raum­fahrt; DLR) pro­cessed this da­ta to cre­ate maps and el­e­va­tion mod­els. This map em­ploys colour-cod­ing to de­pict the high and low points of the south po­lar re­gion.


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Image 30/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Unnamed mountain on Vesta

Un­named moun­tain on Ves­ta

September 25, 2017  Tow­er­ing 22 kilo­me­tres, al­most three times the height of Mount Ever­est, a still-un­named moun­tain ris­es in the cen­tre of a 450 kilo­me­tre-wide im­pact basin at the south pole of the as­ter­oid Ves­ta.


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Image 31/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
The crater Haulani on Ceres

The crater Haulani on Ceres

September 25, 2017  The crater Haulani is about 34 kilo­me­tres in di­am­e­ter, about the size of the Nördlinger Ries in the Swabi­an Alb. It does not seem to be very old yet, be­cause the edge is still sharp. The blue tones in the con­trast-en­hanced im­age are al­so in­dica­tive of this. Land­slides show that ero­sion has be­gun its set­ting work.


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Image 32/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Ahuna Mons on Ceres

Ahu­na Mons on Ceres

September 25, 2017  Ahu­na Mons on Ceres, with crater-free (there­fore ge­o­log­i­cal­ly young) slopes, ris­es some 5000 me­tres above the sur­round­ings, which are oth­er­wise pock­marked by craters. Is it a cry­o­vol­cano that spews out ice as well as la­va? Re­searchers think it is pos­si­ble.


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Image 33/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Occator crater

Oc­ca­tor crater

March 22, 2016  The Oc­ca­tor crater on dwarf plan­et Ceres shows cur­rent­ly un­ex­plained bright patch­es dot­ted across the in­ner sur­face. This true colour im­age re­veals more re­cent bluish ma­te­ri­al. The im­ages were ac­quired from a dis­tance of 1470 kilo­me­tres, and have a res­o­lu­tion of 140 me­tres per pix­el.


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Image 34/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI
Occator region on the dwarf planet Ceres

Oc­ca­tor re­gion on the dwarf plan­et Ceres

November 25, 2015  Plan­e­tary re­searchers from the Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (Deutsches Zen­trum für Luft- und Raum­fahrt; DLR) used cam­era im­ages ac­quired by the Dawn or­biter at a dis­tance of 4400 kilo­me­tres from Ceres to pro­duce this map. It shows the strik­ing Oc­ca­tor crater and the un­usu­al­ly bright spots on its in­te­ri­or.


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Image 35/42, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Cracks and bright spots in the Occator crater

Cracks and bright spots in the Oc­ca­tor crater

March 22, 2016  The com­plex struc­tures of the Oc­ca­tor crater on dwarf plan­et Ceres are clear­ly vis­i­ble in the close-up im­ages ac­quired from a dis­tance of just 385 kilo­me­tres: in ad­di­tion to mys­te­ri­ous bright spots on the in­side of the crater, a large, light-coloured bulge can be seen next to in­nu­mer­able cracks and frac­tures.


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Image 36/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI
Crater with a rare filling

Crater with a rare fill­ing

September 25, 2017  At the cen­tre of the 90 kilo­me­tre-wide im­pact struc­ture Oc­ca­tor is the largest oc­cur­rence of the strange white de­posits on Ceres. These are prin­ci­pal­ly car­bon­ates, salts and car­bon­ic acid. The blue false colours al­so in­di­cate the ex­is­tence of bright de­posits as­so­ci­at­ed with sul­phuric salts, pop­u­lar­ly known as plas­ter.


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Image 37/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Ceres – an icy dwarf

Ceres – an icy dwarf

September 25, 2017  Ac­cord­ing to Dawn’s record­ings, the largest body in the Main As­ter­oid Belt could be con­struct­ed as fol­lows: A core dom­i­nat­ed by hy­drat­ed sil­i­cates, above it a thick man­tle of wa­ter ice with sil­i­cate com­po­nents and on the ex­te­ri­or a crust made up of light rocks and frozen volatile com­po­nents, main­ly wa­ter ice.


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Image 38/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
HED meteorites

HED me­te­orites

September 25, 2017  Mea­sure­ments with the spec­trom­e­ters on the Dawn probe con­firm that the howardite, eu­crite and dio­gen­ite types of me­te­orite come from the as­ter­oid Ves­ta. In the lab­o­ra­to­ry, anal­y­ses with po­larised light can now be used to pre­cise­ly de­ter­mine the min­er­al con­tent.


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Image 39/42, Credit: NASA/University of Tennessee
Dawn’s ion propulsion system

Dawn’s ion propul­sion sys­tem

September 25, 2017  If on­ly rock­etry pi­o­neers Wern­her von Braun and Sergei Ko­rolev had lived to see this! The NASA Dawn mis­sion reached its tar­get not with a con­ven­tion­al rock­et en­gine, but with a propul­sion sys­tem that slow­ly but con­stant­ly ac­cel­er­at­ed the probe us­ing a con­cen­trat­ed jet of ionised in­ert gas (xenon).


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Image 40/42, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Occator crater on Ceres

Oc­ca­tor crater on Ceres

December 14, 2016  With a di­am­e­ter of 92 kilo­me­tres, Oc­ca­tor crater is larg­er than Ty­cho crater on the Moon – which ap­pears like a bright back when seen with the naked eye. Its steep walls stand tall at over 2000 me­tres, high­er than the North face of the Eiger in the Bernese Alps. The ori­gin and na­ture of the bright spots in its in­te­ri­or is still not clear.


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Image 41/42, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)
Dawn spacecraft with a nebula in the background

Dawn space­craft with a neb­u­la in the back­ground

November 30, 2018  About four and a half bil­lion years ago, the Main Belt as­ter­oids formed from a disk of dust and ice par­ti­cles over the course of on­ly about 10 mil­lion years. They in­clude Ceres (right), the largest dwarf plan­et in the main as­ter­oid belt – with a di­am­e­ter of near­ly 1000 kilo­me­tres, and Ves­ta (to the left of the Dawn space­craft), the third largest body. The rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the two as­ter­oids are based on im­ages ac­quired by the Hub­ble Space Tele­scope, ar­tis­ti­cal­ly mod­i­fied in ac­cor­dance with sci­en­tif­ic cri­te­ria. The back­ground im­age is al­so based on re­al­is­tic as­sump­tions and was cre­at­ed by the plan­e­tary re­searcher William Hart­mann from the Plan­e­tary Sci­ence In­sti­tute in Tuc­son (Ari­zona).


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Image 42/42, Credit: UCLA/Bill Hartmann.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft was launched on 27 September 2007, and has been in space for more than 11 years exploring the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.

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