Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2012 May 14

Virtual Flight Over Asteroid Vesta
Images Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UCLA, MPS, DLR, IDA; Animation: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Explanation: What would it be like to fly over the asteroid Vesta? Animators from the German Aerospace Center recently took actual images and height data from NASA's Dawn mission currently visiting Vesta to generate such a virtual movie. The above video begins with a sequence above Divalia Fossa, an unusual pair of troughs running parallel over heavily cratered terrain. Next, the virtual spaceship explores Vesta's 60-km Marcia Crater, showing numerous vivid details. Last, Dawn images were digitally recast with exaggerated height to better reveal Vesta's 5-km high mountain Aricia Tholus. Currently, Dawn is rising away from Vesta after being close enough to obtain the most detailed surface images and gravity measurements of the Solar System's second largest asteroid. In August, Dawn is scheduled to blast away from Vesta and head toward Ceres, the Solar System's largest asteroid.

Help Evaluate APOD: Do the pictures (or videos) on APOD make you more interested in reading the text?
Tomorrow's picture: waterless earth

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.