Vesta's Surface Comes into View
Date: 1 Jun 2011
This image shows surface details beginning to resolve as NASA's Dawn spacecraft closes in on the giant asteroid Vesta. The framing camera aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained this image on 1 June 2011, from a distance of about 300,000 miles (483,000 km).
Vesta is 330 miles (530 km) in diameter and the second most massive object in the asteroid belt. It is also the only large asteroid with a basaltic surface formed due to volcanic processes early in the solar system's history. Vesta is considered a protoplanet because it is a large body that almost formed into a planet.
The Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. It is a project of the Discovery Program managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., designed and built the Dawn spacecraft.
Last Update: 20 Jun 2011 (AMB)