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Giant asteroid Vesta`s hidden attractions revealed

Last Updated: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 12:48

Washington: When viewed with the human eye giant asteroid Vesta, looks quite unspectacular color-wise.

However, when scientists at Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany re-analyzed the images of this giant asteroid obtained by Dawn`s framing camera, they assigned colors to different wavelengths of light and, in the process, revealed in unprecedented detail not only geological structures that are invisible to the naked eye, but also landscapes of incomparable beauty.

Researchers at Max Planck can now see structures such as melts from impacts, craters buried by quakes and foreign material brought by space rocks, visible with a resolution of 200 feet (60 meters) per pixel.

Andreas Nathues, the framing camera team lead at Max Planck, said that the key to these images is the seven color filters of the camera system on board the spacecraft.

Since different minerals reflect light of different wavelengths to different degrees, the filters help reveal compositional differences that remain hidden without them. In addition, scientists calibrated the data so that the finest variations in brightness can be seen.

In the new colorized images, different colors indicate different materials on the surface of Vesta. They reveal impressive formations and a wide range of geological diversity, said Nathues. But above all, the color-coded images are impressive because of their beauty.

First Published: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 - 12:25

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