Video: Asteroid Vesta, Now in 3D

Sid is a freelance science journalist.

Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

If you've got 3D glasses, now's the time to break them out. NASA has produced a 3D movie that highlights some of the asteroid Vesta's most mysterious features, including a band of tall ridges and deep grooves girdling the equator. The images were taken during July and August, when the Dawn spacecraft was approaching the asteroid and then orbiting about 2700 kilometers above Vesta's surface. The virtual tour also includes a pair of large, relatively fresh craters in the northern hemisphere—scientists have dubbed the pair "The Snowman" because one is slightly smaller than the other and their rims nearly touch—and a mountain near the asteroid's south pole that is about 25 kilometers tall, more than twice the height of Earth's Mount Everest. Dawn is now spiraling down toward a 210-kilometer-high orbit, from which it will map Vesta in high resolution. Next July, the craft will depart for Ceres, another large asteroid, where it will arrive in 2015.

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Posted in Space Video