London: Scientists may now be able to find clues onto the formation of Earth.
NASA''s Dawn spacecraft, which has returned after a four-year journey, has provided the first close-up views of the giant asteroid Vesta, a relic of planet-building that could provide an insight into how Earth was formed.
At 530 km across, Vesta is one of the biggest denizens of the asteroid belt, the junkyard of leftover planetary building blocks found between Mars and Jupiter.
For most of Dawn''s journey, Vesta appeared as no more than a star-like speck in the sky. But Dawn is now close enough to return the best views of Vesta yet, surpassing the detail available in Hubble Space Telescope portraits.
"Vesta is a window into the early origins of our solar system and the terrestrial planets," New Scientist quoted Dawn team member Carol Raymond of NASA''s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, as saying.
"We''re on the edge of our seats waiting for this data to come in,” she added.
First Published: Wednesday, June 29, 2011, 13:54