Asteroids and Comets Visited by Spacecraft
With only one exception, all of the five comets and ten asteroid systems (including 11 separate bodies) that have been examined up close by spacecraft are shown here to scale with each other. It is up-to-date as of November 2010, when Deep Impact flew past Hartley 2. It does not include Vesta, the target of the Dawn mission; At approximately 500 kilometers in diameter, Vesta would be considerably more than twice the width of this montage. Vesta is more appropriately included on a montage of the medium-sized icy moons and dwarf planets in the solar system.
This scene is dominated by Lutetia, visited in July 2010 by the Rosetta mission. Click to enlarge to download a high-resolution version produced at 20 meters per pixel. There is also a version without text available.
This montage is freely available to researchers and educators for use in presentations; in fact, Emily Lakdawalla composed it in the first place in the hopes that it would be used to replace poor-quality montages in scientific presentations! If you would like to use it in print, please send an email and please preserve the credit information listed for the data sources and processing work, as far as space allows. A huge number of different spacecraft and institutions were involved in bringing back these precious pictures!
The excitement is building! LightSail is counting down to our test launch, set for May 20—and you’re invited.