Vesta, the second-most massive object in the asteroid belt, is revealing its secrets. New images and video taken by the Dawn mission's framing camera are helping scientists understand how many of the asteroid's interesting features were formed.
One of those features, a circular depression in Vesta's south pole region, is several hundred miles in diameter. Scientists have been eager to take a closer look at this region since the Hubble Space Telescope first indicated its existence, several years ago.
These new images were taken from an altitude of about 1,700 miles above the asteroid's surface, and were used to establish Vesta's rotational axis and a system of latitude and longitude coordinates on the surface.
This video, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory team managing the Dawn mission, shows Vesta from the spacecraft's perspective. The JPL team notes that Vesta, like Earth, has seasons, which is why the asteroid is only partially lit in the video. It's currently winter at Vesta's north pole.
Read more about the Dawn mission.