Dawn's First Glimpse of Vesta
Date: 3 May 2011
This image shows the first, unprocessed image obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft of the giant asteroid Vesta in front of a background of stars. It was obtained by Dawn's framing camera on May 3, 2011, from a distance of about 1.2 million kilometers (750,000 miles). Vesta is inside the white glow at the center of the image. The giant asteroid reflects so much sunlight that its size is dramatically exaggerated at this exposure.
Vesta is 330 miles (530 kilometers) in diameter and the second most massive object in the asteroid belt. But, in Dawn's early approach images, Vesta only appears approximately five pixels across in size.