≡ Menu

Asteroid Vesta Floats in Space in High Resolution 3-D

Vesta’s Eastern Hemisphere Floats in Space in 3-D
This anaglyph shows the varied topography of Vesta’s eastern hemisphere from craters in the north, the equatorial troughs and the huge mountain protruding out the Rheasilvia impact basin (lower left) at the South Pole.
Does water ice lurk beneath the South Pole ?
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
More eye-popping 3-D images below

The giant Asteroid Vesta literally floats in space in a new high resolution 3-D image of the battered bodies Eastern Hemisphere taken by NASA’s Dawn Asteroid Orbiter.

Haul out your red-cyan 3-D anaglyph glasses and lets go whirling around Vesta and sledding down mountains to greet the alien Snowman! The sights are fabulous !

The Dawn imaging group based at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), in Berlin, Germany and led by team member Ralf Jaumann has released a trio of new high resolution 3-D images that are the most vivid anaglyphs yet published by the international science team.

The lead anaglyph shows the highly varied topography of the Eastern Hemisphere of Vesta and was taken during the final approach phase as Dawn was about 5,200 kilometers (3,200 miles) away and preparing to achieve orbit in July 2011.

The heavily cratered northern region is at top and is only partially illuminated because of Vesta’s tilted angle to the Sun at that time of year. Younger craters are overlain onto many older and more degraded craters. The equatorial region is dominated by the mysterious troughs which encircle most of Vesta and may have formed as a result of a gargantuan gong, eons ago.

The southern hemisphere exhibits fewer craters than in the northern hemisphere. Look closely at the bottom left and you’ll see the huge central mountain complex of the Rheasilvia impact basin visibly protruding out from Vesta’s south polar region.

This next 3-D image shows a close-up of the South Pole Mountain at the center of the Rheasilvia Impact basin otherwise known as the “Mount Everest of Vesta”.

The Mount Everest of Vesta in 3-D
This anaglyph shows the central complex and huge mountain in Vesta’s Rheasilvia impact basin at the South Pole. Does water ice lurk beneath the South Pole ?
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

The central complex is approximately 200 kilometers (120 miles) in diameter and is approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) tall and is therefore about two and a half times taller than Earth’s Mount Everest!

Be sure to take a long look inside the deep craters and hummocky terrain surrounding “Mount Everest”.

A recent study concludes that, in theory, Vesta’s interior is cold enough for water ice to lurk beneath the North and South poles.

Finally lets gaze at the trio of craters that make up the “Snowman” in the 3-D image snapped in August 2011 as Dawn was orbiting at about 2,700 kilometers (1,700 miles) altitude. The three craters are named Minucia, Marcia and Calpurnia from top to bottom. Their diameters respectively are; 24 kilometers (15 miles), 53 kilometers (33 miles) and 63 kilometers (40 miles).

3-D image of Vesta’s “Snowman” craters
The three craters are named Minucia, Marcia and Calpurnia from top to bottom. They are 24 kilometers (15 miles), 53 kilometers (33 miles) and 63 kilometers (40 miles) in diameter, respectively. Image resolution is about 250 meters (820 feet) per pixel. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

It is likely that Marcia and Calpurnia formed from the impact of a binary asteroid and that Minucia formed in a later impact. The smooth region around the craters is the ejecta blanket.

Dawn Orbiting Vesta above the “Snowman” craters
This artist's concept shows NASA's Dawn spacecraft orbiting the giant asteroid Vesta above the Snowman craters. The depiction of Vesta is based on images obtained by Dawn's framing cameras. Dawn is an international collaboration of the US, Germany and Italy. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Vesta is the second most massive asteroid in the main Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. It is 330 miles (530 km) in diameter.

Dawn is the first spacecraft from Earth to visit Vesta. It achieved orbit in July 2011 for a year long mission. Dawn will fire up its ion propulsion thrusters in July 2012 to spiral out of orbit and sail to Ceres, the biggest asteroid of them all !

Vesta and Ceres are also considered to be protoplanets.

About 

Dr. Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist (Princeton, NJ) and photographer whose articles, space exploration images and Mars mosaics have appeared in magazines, books, websites and calanders including Astronomy Picture of the Day, NBC, BBC, SPACE.com, Spaceflight Now and the covers of Aviation Week & Space Technology, Spaceflight and the Explorers Club magazines. Ken has presented at numerous educational institutions, civic & religious organizations, museums and astronomy clubs. Ken has reported first hand from the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral and NASA Wallops on over 40 launches including 8 shuttle launches. He lectures on both Human and Robotic spaceflight - www.kenkremer.com. Follow Ken on Facebook and Twitter

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ed February 6, 2012, 7:46 AM

    I heard that this asteroid is going to be near our planet soon enough. Thankfully, it’s not going to hit Earth. What a relief!
    http://freeflactomp3converter.com/
    convert flac to mp3

  • Anonymous February 6, 2012, 8:31 AM

    Best vision: SCREEN?? 1 meter??EYES. … amazing!

    http://www.youtube.com/user/fernandobeltranp

  • Anonymous February 6, 2012, 11:45 AM

    Can I just say that NASA’s arbitrary choice of 3D medium is very disappointing. Their are multiple methods of viewing 3D content, some of which do not require specialized glasses. They do the same with their video’s on YT, even though YT has in-build technology allowing you to upload the video in such a way that the viewer can choose any viewing method he wishes. Yet NASA still insists on publishing exclusively in this outdated form of anaglyph. This has led to me not having seen EVEN ONE of NASA’s 3D photos or videos in 3D! In my opinion an absolutely disgraceful show of inept PR. I’m sorry, but these photo’s are of no use to 90% of your readership UT, even though they are probably awesome. NASA, please come out of the 90’s….

    • Anonymous February 6, 2012, 3:41 PM

      The things that really seem to upset some people! “Absolutely disgraceful” might just be taking this to an extreme. I have enjoyed both the “do it yourself”, side by side 3-D images and was pleased to recieve some cheap cardboard cyan/red glasses in the mail with a flyer ad I discarded so that now I can enjoy these too. Thanks UT and NASA!
      And yes, Ed, what a relief that an asteroid, orbiting for the same length of time as our own planet is going to remain in its own orbit for millions more years. Whew!

      • Stan Taylor February 6, 2012, 5:11 PM

        Well, “Disgraceful” might be a little over-caffeinated, but I have to agree that I much prefer the “Cross-eyed” 3D method, & never have located or made a pair of red-green goggles. Surely it can’t be that hard to post in a couple of formats?

hide