[meteorite-list] Dawn Mission Video Shows Vesta's Coat of Many Colors
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Wed, 6 Jun 2012 12:23:19 -0700 (PDT)
Dawn Mission Video Shows Vesta's Coat of Many Colors
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
June 06, 2012
PASADENA, Calif. - A new video from NASA's Dawn mission reveals the
dappled, variegated surface of the giant asteroid Vesta. The animation
drapes high-resolution false color images over a 3-D model of the Vesta
terrain constructed from Dawn's observations. This visualization enables
a detailed view of the variation in the material properties of Vesta in
the context of its topography.
The video is available online at:
The colors were chosen to highlight differences in surface composition
that are too subtle for the human eye to see. Scientists are still
analyzing what some of the colors mean for the composition of the
surface. But it is clear that the orange material thrown out from some
impact craters is different from the surrounding surface material. Green
shows the relative abundance of iron. Parts of the huge impact basin
known as Rheasilvia in Vesta's southern hemisphere, for instance, have
areas with less iron than nearby areas.
Dawn has imaged the majority of the surface of Vesta with the framing
camera to provide this 3-D map. While some areas in the north were in
shadow at the time the images were obtained by the camera, Dawn expects
to improve its coverage of Vesta's northern hemisphere with additional
observations. Dawn's viewing geometry also prevented mapping of a
portion of the mountain of the south pole.
The spacecraft is currently spiraling up from its lowest-altitude orbit
into its final science orbit, where its average altitude will be about
420 miles (680 kilometers). Dawn is scheduled to leave Vesta around Aug.
The Dawn mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif., for the agency's Science Mission Directorate in
Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program,
managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. UCLA
is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital Sciences Corp.
of Dulles, Va., designed and built the Dawn spacecraft. The framing
cameras were developed and built under the leadership of the Max Planck
Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany. The
German Aerospace Center (DLR) Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin
made significant contributions in coordination with the Institute of
Computer and Communication Network Engineering in Braunschweig. The
framing camera project is funded by the Max Planck Society, DLR and
NASA. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in
For more information about Dawn, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/dawn and
Priscilla Vega / Jia-Rui Cook 818-354-1357/0850
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Priscilla.r.vega at jpl.nasa.gov / jccook at jpl.nasa.gov
Received on Wed 06 Jun 2012 03:23:19 PM PDT