May 11

Dawn spacecraft captures first image of nearing asteroid

Source: NASA-Dawn

Image processed to show the true size of the giant asteroid Vesta.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

Dawn spacecraft has obtained its first image of the giant asteroid Vesta, which will help fine-tune navigation during its approach. Dawn expects to achieve orbit around Vesta on July 16, when the asteroid is about 117 million miles from Earth.

The image from Dawn's framing cameras was taken on May 3 when the spacecraft began its approach and was approximately 752,000 miles (1.21 million km) from Vesta. The asteroid appears as a small, bright pearl against a background of stars. Vesta also is known as a protoplanet, because it is a large body that almost formed into a planet. (read more)

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