Picture of the Day: Composite Showing Sizes of Nine Asteroids

571642main_image_2010_1024-768.jpg

This composite image, with Vesta at the center, shows the relative size of nine asteroids that astronomers have been watching. "Up until now, Lutetia, with a diameter of 81 miles (130 kilometers), was the largest asteroid visited by a spacecraft, which occurred during a flyby," NASA explained. "Vesta dwarfs all other small bodies in this image." And we'll soon know more about Vesta, which is so large that it's also considered a protoplanet; at a diameter of about 330 meters, the asteroid came very close to moving into a new level of classification.

The Dawn probe, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory but part of an international cooperative, reached Vesta in mid-July and will remain there, orbiting the planet and studying it, until 2012. At that point, it will leave Vesta's orbit and head to Ceres, another protoplanet.

View more Pictures of the Day.

Image: NASA.

Presented by

Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Technology

Just In