Check out this new NASA video. It’s as if you’re piloting the Dawn spacecraft – which has been orbiting the large asteroid Vesta since July 2011 and will study this mysterious world until July 2012 – in a simulated fly-around of the asteroid. You are there!
Notice in the video that Vesta is not entirely lit up. Like all bodies in our solar system, Vesta gets its light from our sun. There’s no light in the high northern latitudes of Vesta now, where it’s currently winter. As on Earth, when it’s northern winter on Vesta, the northern polar region is in perpetual darkness. Meanwhile, as we view Vesta’s rotation from above the south pole, half is in darkness simply because half of Vesta is in daylight and half is in the darkness of night.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.