Spotting Asteroid Vesta (January 25, 2008)
Hi-res TIF image (1.5M)
Beginning late on January 16 2008 the asteroid Vesta appeared in the STEREO SECCHI COR2-A ("Ahead" spacecraft) images. Although a fairly small, whitish dot, it can be picked out in the lower-left corner, moving left-to-right noticeably slower than the star field that passes behind it. Vesta is the second most massive asteroid that we know of, about the size of the state of Arizona. It has a very complex surface that bears the scars of countless ancient impacts, some of which have left craters deep enough for astronomers to peer below the asteroid's crust and into the past. In fact, the NASA's Dawn mission launched in late 2007 to begin an 8-year, 3.2-billion-mile odyssey to explore Vesta in 2011 and Ceres, another asteroid, in 2015.
SOHO began its Weekly Pick some time after sending a weekly image or video clip to the American Museum of Natural History (Rose Center) in New York City. There, the SOHO Weekly Pick is displayed with some annotations on a large plasma display.
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