NASA launched Dawn spacecraft in 2007 to study two of the three known protoplanets of the asteroid belt: Vesta and Ceres. And now here is an amazing interactive tool, very similar to Google Earth, called Vesta Trek, which let you explore Vesta — one of the largest asteroids in the Solar System — on your own.
Dawn studied Vesta from July 2011 to September 2012 and now is orbiting its second target, the dwarf planet Ceres. VestaTrek visualises tons of data gathered from multiple instruments aboard Dawn, the application developed by NASA’s Lunar Mapping and Modelling Project, including:
- Interactive maps with different layers of data sets including topography, mineralogy, abundance of elements and geology.
- 3D printer-exportable topography so you can print your own physical model of Vesta’s surface.
- Standard keyboard gaming controls to fly across the surface of the asteroid in a first-person view.
Here is a section of the 2D topography of Vesta you can zoom into a very detailed level in the application: