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.

September 8, 1997
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

A Map of Asteroid Vesta
Credit: B. Zellner (GSU), P. Thomas (Cornell), et al., WFPC2, HST, NASA

Explanation: Vesta is a huge rock 500 kilometers across that orbits out past Mars. Last week, the above map of Vesta created using the Hubble Space Telescope was released showing a rugged surface highlighted by a single crater spanning nearly the entire length of the asteroid. The large crater dominates the lower part of the false-color conglomerate image: blue indicates low terrain, while red indicates raised terrain. Evidence indicates that Vesta underwent a tremendous splintering collision about a billion years ago. In October 1960, a small chunk of this rock believed to have originated on Vesta fell to Earth and was recovered in Australia.

Tomorrow's picture: A Green Flash from the Sun

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.