NASA's Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around Vesta on July 16, 2011 for a planned one-year exploration, and what is known about Vesta will be refined and extended as data from Dawn is received, analyzed and published.
See asteroid Vesta spin before your very eyes. In this movie, strung together from a series of images provided by the framing camera on NASA's Dawn spacecraft, we see a full rotation of Vesta, which occurs over the course of roughly five hours. These images were obtained on July 24, 2011, from a distance of about 3,200 miles (5,200 kilometers).
Vesta appears in a splendid rainbow-colored palette in new images obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The colors, assigned by scientists to show different rock or mineral types, reveal Vesta to be a world of many varied, well-separated layers and ingredients. Vesta is unique among asteroids visited by spacecraft to date in having such wide variation, supporting the notion that it is transitional between the terrestrial planets -- like Earth, Mercury, Mars and Venus -- and its asteroid siblings.
In images from Dawn's framing camera, the colors reveal differences in the rock composition associated with material ejected by impacts and geologic processes, such as slumping, that have modified the asteroid's surface. [...]
Dawn, as a mission belonging to NASA’s Discovery Program, delves into the unknown, drives new technology innovations, and achieves what's never been attempted before. In Dawn’s case, it is orbiting one member of the main asteroid belt, Vesta, before heading to gather yet more data at a second, Ceres. [...]