NASA’S DAWN SPACECRAFT obtained this image of Vesta with its framing camera on July 31, 2011. It was taken from a distance of about 3,700 kilometres from the giant asteroid.
Vesta is one of the largest of the asteroids, and orbits the Sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
The smallest visible detail, which is about 2 pixels, corresponds to roughly 70 metres.
Dawn arrived at Vesta on July 16 after a journey of almost four years. It is now in orbit around the 530-kilometre-wide asteroid and will spend the next 12 months investigating it.
At the end of those 12 months, it will depart Vesta and voyage to the even-larger main belt body, the dwarf planet Ceres, and spend a further 12 months studying that object.
The aim of the Dawn mission is to shed light on the origins of the Sun and the planets by examining these two asteroids, which are thought to be amongst the oldest surviving bodies in the Solar System.
Adapted from information issued by NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA.
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