Vesta, the brightest asteroid of all, revolves around the Sun in 3.6 terrestrial years and its mean diameter is about 520 km. This huge rock of irregular shape, with no trace of water, has a core composed of iron. The enormous crater at the south pole of Vesta is 460 km wide and 13 km deep. This is the result of a massive collision appears to have torn part of the small planet. Astronomers believe that 5% of meteorites found on Earth come from this huge shock. In July 2011, the Dawn spacecraft to Vesta has come to stay in orbit a year or so and then turn back on its engines to reach a much larger asteroid, Ceres, it will reach in 2015. The journey of the probe Dawn ("Dawn" in English) will enlighten us a little about the birth of our solar system and on planet formation. Dawn will travel a total of 5.1 billion km, 7 months evolve around each asteroid.
Overflights at low altitude are planned, at an altitude of 15 km to Vesta and Ceres to 40 km.
578 × 560 × 458 km
384,920740×106 km (2,573034 ua)
321,767047×106 km (2,150878 ua)
2,7 × 1020 kg
29 mars 1807
nota: ua (Astronomical Unit = Earth-Sun distance).
Image: The gaping crater 460 km in diameter, the south pole of Vesta is detailed here by the Dawn spacecraft. Photo taken by the probe while it was 5200 km away from Vesta in July 2011. image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UCLA, MPS, DLR, IDA
The amazing relief of Vesta
The first pictures of the probe descends Vesta Dawn since July 16, 2011 to 5200 km, it already reveals some curiosities. The landscape is riddled with craters Earth surprising, in fact, the asteroid is heavily cratered 530 km in its northern part, while its southern part is quite smooth. The number of craters is very surprising because the density of craters, has not been observed elsewhere, on other planets. Over long parallel scratches are around Vesta. Scientists have yet to explain about these brands. What was amazing dig these brands?
Video: NASA, shows the rotation of Vesta. The asteroid 530 km in diameter turns on itself in 5 hours and 20 minutes. One can notice the amazing scratch that circle of Vesta.