SCIENCE -- December 15, 2011 at 3:22 PM EDT
Spacecraft Snaps Giant Asteroid Vesta Up Close
In mid-July, NASA's Dawn spacecraft swung into a yearlong orbit around Vesta, the second-most massive object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Since then, it has been snapping pictures of the protoplanet's rugged surface and beaming them back to Earth, revealing images of craters, mountains, rocky plains and steep slopes.
On December 12, Dawn maneuvered into its closest orbit yet around the giant asteroid, beginning a new phase of observations, according to NASA. The spacecraft is now circling Vesta at an altitude of about 130 miles.
MORE INCLUDING PHOTO ESSAY: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/12/dawn-beams-back-images.html
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