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Dawn creeps closer to Clanger homeworld Vesta

Another fine snap from asteroid-hunting spacecraft

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NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned another fine snap of Clanger homeworld Vesta – the substantial asteroid belt object seen here on 23 July from a distance of around 3,200 miles (5,200 kilometres):

Dawn image of Vesta's dark side. Pic: NASA

NASA elaborates: "Dawn took this image over Vesta's northern hemisphere after the spacecraft completed its first passage over the dark side of the giant asteroid. It is northern hemisphere winter on Vesta now, so its north pole is in deep shadow.

"The Dawn science team is working to determine the significance of the distinct features in this image, which include large grooves or ridges extending for great distances around Vesta."

Vesta is the second-largest object orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Its 330 mile (530 kilometre) diameter is surpassed only by Ceres, whose imposing bulk extends 606 by 565 miles (975 by 909 kilometres).

Dawn will spend a year orbiting Vesta, approaching to within 120 miles (200 kilometres) of its surface. It is then scheduled to head off for a 2015 close encounter with Ceres. ®

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