Vesta up close

The Dawn spacecraft has taken its first closeup photos of the asteroid Vesta since successfully entering orbit last Friday. This is the first time that a main-belt asteroid has been orbited by a spacecraft. There are some large ridges/cliffs as well as many craters, but the most prominent feature would seem to be the large mound inside the huge crater at the south pole (in centre of image below). Some comparisons have been made to Uranus’ moon Miranda in terms of the “chevron-shaped ridges” also inside that crater.


As Dawn refines its orbit closer to Vesta over the next few weeks, there should be many more images showing greater detail; our first closeup look at this very old and intriquing world…