Visit Vesta

Here's something you don't see very day - never before, in fact.

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It's a map of Vesta, supplied by the Dawn probe during its history-making 13-month orbital tour of the large main-belt asteroid.

Released at the European Planetary Science Congress in London, the Vesta atlas consists of some 10,000 close-up images of the giant planetoid from an altitude of about 210 km (130 mi.).

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"The Atlas shows how extreme the terrain is on a body the size of Vesta," said Thomas Roatsch of the German Aerospace Center DLR, which helped fund the framing camera on Dawn that was used to collect the images. "In the south pole projection alone, the Severina crater contours reach a depth of 11 mi. (18 km); just over 60 mi. away from the mountain peak towers about 4 mi. high."

View the entire atlas at JPL's Vesta Atlas Gallery.

Dawn left Vesta a year ago on a solar-electric-powered trajectory that is schedled to put it in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres early in 2015.

Atlas credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

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