NASA has released a video that paints the surface of the dwarf planet Vesta in the colors of the rainbow. These false-color images allow viewers to better understand the rugged terrain and composition of the tiny world. This 3-D model was constructed with images taken by the Dawn spacecraft orbiting high above.
The colors used in this video were selected so as to better allow Vesta’s composition to be better interpreted by the human eye. According to a NASA press release the most obvious color, the one that stands out the most – is orange. This color relates to material that has been blasted out during impact events. It also highlights a simple fact – the material that has been thrown out is a different material than what the surface is comprised of.
Video courtesy of JPL
Green is another abundant color – in this video green represents iron. The NASA press release issued regarding the video details that certain regions, such as Vesta’s Rheasilvia impact basin contains less iron than the surrounding areas.
Using its framing camera, the Dawn spacecraft has been put to work developing a 3-D map of Vesta’s terrain. The whole process will take a while to complete, certain area’s of the small world are draped in shadow and Dawn is working to record images from these areas (primarily Vesta’s polar regions).
Dawn has a limited window in which to accomplish this as the spacecraft, different than other probes, is slated to break orbit from Vesta and head to its next target, another minor planet named Ceres. Dawn is currently scheduled to depart Vesta for Ceres on Aug. 26.
For more information: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/