This colourful, high-resolution image shows the pockmarked surface of the asteroid Vesta in unprecedented detail.
Looking rather like a technicolour pumice stone, this false-colour model of Vesta’s terrain was made using images from a camera on board NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which has been in orbit around the asteroid since last July.
The colours indicate subtle differences in the asteroid’s surface composition. The oranges, for example, show the material thrown out from some impact craters, while the greens show areas rich in iron. Click here to see a short animation showing Vesta in all its three-dimensional glory.
With an average diameter of around 525 km (326 miles), Vesta is one of the largest asteroids in the Solar System – essentially a ‘failed planet’. By studying it in detail, scientists hope to understand more about the evolution of the early Solar System.