Dawn Continues to Spiral in on Vesta

The Dawn Spacecraft has spiraled in on the asteroid Vesta using its ion thruster, and is now 5,200 kilometers above the surface. This image was taken by the framing camera on 23 July 2011.

Dawn Image of Vesta
Dawn Image of Vesta from 5,200 Kilometers
Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

Currently, Dawn and Vesta are traveling together through the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter at about 74,000 kilometers per hour. Dawn was captured by Vesta on 15 July, while approaching at only 27 meters per second (less than 100 kilometers per hour).

Thrusting will resume on 28 July, reducing the orbital distance down to the planned survey altitude. The visible and infrared mapping spectrometer have now observed Vesta from northern latitudes to the south pole. Spectacular results will be unveiled on August 1.

ED: Images from the press conference are here. Full Rotation of Vesta is here.

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