Vesta Asteroid Images Taken by NASA Dawn Spacecraft

Vesta Asteroid Images Taken by NASA Dawn Spacecraft

Vesta Asteroid Images Taken by NASA Dawn Spacecraft

The Dawn spacecraft launched by NASA has sent back the very first high detail, close-up images of the massive asteroid known as Vesta. The craft was sent into orbit around the body to pick up more information about its surface and composition. This was the first probe ever to orbit a space object that is part of the belt running between Jupiter and Mars.

Dawn was just under 10,000 miles away from the asteroid when it took the high definition photos of Vesta. The giant asteroid is 330 miles across at its widest point and is the second largest object currently known in that specific asteroid. We’ve been able to capture images of the object for over 200 years, but the asteroid belt is so far away that the images caught on telescopes never showed much detail of the surface.

Vesta is so large that it had produced some of the many meteorites that have fallen to the surface of Earth. It is about 117 million miles away from our planet. The Dawn probe will begin sending new data back in August for scientists to perform more research into the early history of our solar system. It took the craft about 4 years of travel to reach its orbit destination. The probe researched the highest propulsive acceleration yet of any space launched craft by changing its velocity by more than 4 miles per second. Dawn is powered by new ion engines to travel at higher speeds.

Although the asteroid is in our area of the solar system, it has not yet been explored. NASA scientists hope that information provided by both Dawn’s flight path and the data returned on Vesta will help with future manned missions to the area. The probe is still approaching the asteroid and won’t be in its finally orbiting position for three weeks. The science team working with the information sent back will use this time to scan for other bodies like moons or satellites around the asteroid.


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