Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dawn Approaches Asteriod 4 Vesta

Remember when Dawn was in the range to take pictures of main-belt asteroid 4 Vesta's surface back in early May? Now, Dawn approaches even closer and the surface features of this asteroid come clearly into view.

The images you see below were obtained by a framing camera during a 30-minute period and show about 30 degrees of a rotation. "Like strangers in a strange land, we're looking for familiar landmarks," said Jian-Yang Li, a Dawn participating scientist from the University of Maryland, College Park. "The shadowy spot is one of those -- it appears to match a feature, known as 'Feature B,' from images of Vesta taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope."

"Vesta is coming more and more into focus," said Andreas Nathues, framing camera lead investigator, based at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany. "Dawn's framing camera is working exactly as anticipated."

Before starting to orbit Vesta on July 16, Dawn will slow to about seventy-five mph, and "NASA is expecting to release more images on a weekly basis, with more frequent images available once the spacecraft begins collecting science at Vesta," the Dawn mission proclaims. Therefore: you can visit our daily updated page with new pictures and media here.

Credit: NASA. This is 4 Vesta.
To view a video on the approach of Vesta, this page will help you. This also features Dawn.

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