The asteroid Vesta Color: the show presented by Dawn
Only Nature can paint a picture so beautiful with these colors. Word of scientists. The result of the observations of the asteroid Vesta taken by the Dawn spacecraft has begun to bear fruit.
The surface of the asteroid Vesta is modeled by agents “atmospheric” completely different from those of other known asteroids: this is the latest discovery of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, launched in 2007 to study the two larger objects of the so-called Main Belt, more precisely Vesta and Ceres.
Obviously, it is improper to speak of the weather, as these bodies do not have enough mass to hold around themselves a layer of gas, but there was a progressive ‘ blackening ‘ of the surface of asteroids (and other celestial objects devoid of atmosphere, such as the Moon) because of the constant bombardment of micro – meteorites made by ferrous metal and high energy particles of the solar wind, which in time alter the brightness of these bodies, this phenomenon has been called space weathering. The layers of the deeper soil avoid this process, and in case they are raised and dispersed by the impact of a meteorite sufficiently large, are clearer of the ground instead exposed to the space.
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Lindau, Germany, have re-analyzed the images of this giant asteroid, images obtained through the help of special camera aboard Dawn.
By assigning different colors to the same number of wavelengths of light, the result was astonishing and revealed with unprecedented precision, not only the geological structures invisible to the naked eye but also, landscapes of incomparable beauty.
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute are thus able to observe the structures that are formed because of bumps, craters buried by earthquakes and other foreign material to the asteroid, led by space rocks. All with a resolution of 60 meters per pixel.
“The key to these images is the set of seven colors of the camera system on board the spacecraft,” said Andreas Nathues. The different minerals reflect light of different wavelengths to different degrees and the filters were allowed to detect differences in composition.
The different colors indicate therefore, the materials present on the surface of Vesta. They reveal impressive formations and a wide range of geological variety. “No artist could paint something like that. Only nature can do, “added Martin Hoffman, a member of the crew of the Max Planck Institute.
The most striking images are those that immortalize the crater Aelia, the crater Antonia and an area near the crater Sextilia, now considered the most beautiful places of Vesta.
The Dawn spacecraft has left the asteroid in July of 2012 and now it is moving at a time of Ceres, which will reach in February 2015, a few months before the end of its mission.