Vesta in Color


These composite images from the framing camera aboard NASA’s Dawn spacecraft show three views of the same terrain near Aquilia crater on the giant asteroid Vesta. The black-and-white image highlights topography, a colorized image highlights chemical composition, and a combination of the two shows the relationship between topography and composition.

An unnamed crater is visible at top left and a portion of the larger Aquilia crater is visible as a semicircle in the lower right. The two craters have fresh rims and sharply defined shapes, which seem to indicate that they are relatively new. The crater at top left shows a defined blanket of material that was ejected during impact. That blanket shows as dark blue in the colorized image.

The framing camera has seven color filters that allow it to image Vesta in different wavelengths of light. Being able to image in multiple wavelengths allows detection of features normally invisible to the naked eye. In this colorized image green shows the relative amount of iron. Brighter green signifies a higher relative strength of this band, indicating chemistry involving pyroxene. On the other hand, reddish colors indicate either a different mineralogy or a stronger weathered surface.

These images were taken during Dawn’s high-altitude mapping orbit 680 km above the surface. They cover an area that is about 60 km square near the edge of the Rheasilvia basin in Vesta’s southern hemisphere.

Image Credit: NASA

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