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EarthSky // Science Wire, Space Release Date: Dec 18, 2013

New colorized images of asteroid Vesta

“No artist could paint something like that. Only nature can do this.” – Astronomer Martin Hoffman

Aelia

View larger. | This composite image from the Dawn mission shows the flow of material inside and outside a crater called Aelia on the giant asteroid Vesta. The area is around 14 degrees south latitude. The images that went into this composite were obtained by Dawn’s framing camera from September to October 2011. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLAMPS/DLR/IDA

As NASA’s Dawn spacecraft scrutinized the asteroid Vesta in 2011 and 2012, the asteroid looked grayish in color and scarred with large and small craters. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, recently re-analyzed images from Dawn’s framing camera and assigned colors to different wavelengths of light. Their new colorized images reveal new details of geologic structures on the asteroid’s surface that were previously hidden to the eye. The new images – released December 16, 2013 – show a hidden beauty in Vesta’s ancient landscape.

These scientists are now scrutinizing new details about structures on Vesta such as melts from impacts by other asteroids, and craters buried by quakes on Vesta. They can also see foreign material brought by other rocks in space. Their new images have a resolution of 200 feet (60 meters) per pixel.

Martin Hoffman, a member of the framing camera team also at Max Planck, commented in the press release on the beauty of the new images. He said:

No artist could paint something like that. Only nature can do this.

Read more about the new images of Vesta via NASA JPL

More about Dawn’s discoveries as it surveyed the landscape of Vesta

Here's how the Dawn spacecraft saw Vesta, as it was departing that little world on September 5, 2012.  This image looks down at Vesta's north pole.  Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Here’s an ordinary, non-colorized image from the Dawn spacecraft. It’s how Dawn saw Vesta as it was departing that little world on September 5, 2012. This image looks down at Vesta’s north pole. Dawn is now en route to the asteroid Ceres. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA