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Vesta Shape and Gravity
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Vesta Shape and Gravity

November 6, 2012
April 25, 2012 - PASADENA, Calif. -- This video from NASA's Dawn mission shows that the gravity field of Vesta closely matches the surface topography of the giant asteroid Vesta. The video shows shaded topography from Dawn's framing camera on the left, with troughs and craters visible, and color-contoured data from Dawn's gravity experiment on the right. Red shows the areas with a higher than average gravity field and blue-purple shows the areas where the field is weaker on average. The highest topography, on the rim of the Rheasilvia basin deep in the southern hemisphere, shows a particularly strong gravity field. The dashed line indicates the north-south axis. The topography model is derived from framing camera images from Dawn's high-altitude mapping orbit (420 miles or 680 kilometers above the surface), and the gravity data come from the low-altitude mapping orbit (130 miles or 210 kilometers above the surface). Vesta takes approximately 5.34 hours to make a rotation. Dawn's mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital Sciences Corp. in Dulles, Va., designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For more information about the Dawn mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/dawn. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA