Welcome 2011! I can't wait for what this year has in store. The prize for all of you who have enjoyed opening each door in the Planetary Society's 2010 advent calendar is one of the best views we can get of one of the biggest objects in the asteroid belt, Vesta. It's from Hubble, and Hubble is a great instrument, but as you can see it is nothing like the photos we have gotten from other worlds that we have actually visited. Of course, Vesta is a world that will soon receive its first visitor. In June and July, we'll get our first sense of what the geology of Vesta is really like. I can't wait!!
NASA / ESA / STScI / UMd
Vesta from Hubble
The Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 3 observed Vesta in February 2010 to aid the Dawn mission in planning their orbital tour of the asteroid, scheduled to begin in the summer of 2011. Hubble's images were taken in near-ultraviolet and blue wavelengths, so this view is not representative of what the human eye would see. Dark areas are interpreted to be regions of basalt; red areas are likely "regolith" or dust. The observations were made on February 25 and 28, 2010. This view is just a still from a 146-frame movie of the asteroid's rotation. A deep crater appears to be in the center of the view.