Monday, June 13, 2011

Vesta Approach Video

NASA's Dawn spacecraft is slowly inching closer to asteroid Vesta. Last month, NASA released Dawn's first glimpse of Vesta, at about 1.21 million kilometers (752,000 miles) away. Today they have released a really short video. In the video, Vesta rotates from left to right, and covers about 30 degrees of rotation.



The view of Vesta has really improved, the craft is now at a distance of about 300,000 miles (483,000 kilometers). This short video is the looping of 20 images taken over about 30 minutes. The images were obtained on June 1st for navigational purposes.


The resolution here is on par with the Hubble Space Telescope images of Vesta. Astronomers are busy looking for familiar landmarks and picking out new details. The large crater at the south pole appears to be a real feature, one that astronomers will definitely be getting a much closer look at.


In about a month, July 16, Dawn will be slipping smoothly into orbit around Vesta. This will be our first close encounter with an alien body in the asteroid belt and much is hoped to be learned. After Dawn is finished, it will glide right back out and head onwards to largest body in the asteroid belt, the dwarf planet Ceres.


Video Source (if you can't play the video, try here.)


31 comments:

AllenTesch said...

That's really cool.

Dave said...

These Asteroids give me the heebie jeebies. Everytime I hear of one it makes me realise how so important it is for us to get out of here and reach the stars.

Malkavian said...

Wow looks grim awesome footage by Nasa.

Melanie said...

That is awesome! Can't wait to see what they discover!

Kicking Rocks said...

Thats awesome...imagine a ufo just flys by lmao...

Xenototh said...

Out of curiosity, do you have any idea if they are expecting to find something or particular interest, or is this purely for scientific exploration?

-E- said...

here, here to dave!

thenitefalls said...

It'll be awesome to see some of the footage of vesta that is going be filmed in july 16

Astronomy Pirate said...

@Xenototh, no space craft have actually visited Vesta before and there's potentially a lot there to learn. One thing the researchers involved in these kinds of missions learned early on is to be surprised by whatever we find.

Vesta is a really old object, pre-dating the planets, so it gives us a glimpse at the Solar System in those early days. The researchers are also hoping that the large southern crater has actually excavated the surface, so we can learn more about the structure of these kinds of asteroids.

Dave Benzene said...

I'd like to say its cool, but until they get closer its still just a small grey circle

A Beer for the Shower said...

You know what, I'm just gonna say it, I normally wouldn't read about stuff like this, but reading your blog and seeing all of these videos has awakened my inner science geek. I could watch these things all day.

Biff Tanner said...

Great vid!

Jay said...

i can see a face! :D

Zombie said...

That is freakin awesome!

ed said...

cool, were closer to discovering aliens

Rob said...

That's amazing :D Humanity is capable of such crazy stuff.

Necroticism said...

Oh, "the video can't initiate" :(

But I love the name Vespa, remind me of Space Balls.

We'll see some Vespians, cool :)

The Angry Lurker said...

Excellent.

Astronomy Pirate said...

@Necroticism, It might be impacted by whatever country you are in. I'm not so sure how that NASA player works outside the US. That's why I posted the link to the NASA page. I tried to find a Youtube version, but there weren't any. Also, it's Vesta, with a T. Like Vestal Virgin, which I think they are actually using famous ones from Roman history for naming surface features.

phthalo. said...

Interesting in the bit you mentioned in the comment about it being from the early solar system. Hopefully it will have something to tell us!

Triper said...

Cool vesta!

Solsby Kid said...

Great video!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

This is pretty exciting news. I can't wait for the close up images.

JayPower said...

This is amazing, what will nasa think of next ;D

HiFi said...

Cool!

Banacek said...

I kept waiting for something to jump out at me.

Daniel said...

wow seem fake...

Alphabeta said...

Impressive - let's hope many amazing secrets await.

Blk Jesus said...

very interesting

Moobeat said...

intense

MRanthrope said...

This is all great practice for when, you know, we have to land shuttles on them and try to blow them up to save ourselves from extinction. Sorry....I was watching Deep Impact on tv this whole weekend.

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