Images captured by NASA's Dawn spacecraft of the asteroid Vesta were dull, grayish in color and dotted with craters. But researchers have now assigned colors for different wavelengths of light and transformed the images to reveal geological details that were invisible to the naked eye.
The colorized composite images have given researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research an insight in to the landscape of the asteroid, revealing structures such as melts from impacts, craters buried by quakes and foreign material brought by space rocks.
"The key to these images is the seven color filters of the camera system on board the spacecraft," said Andreas Nathues, the framing camera team lead at Max Planck.
The different colors indicate different minerals on the surface of the asteroid. They reveal impressive formations and a wide range of geological diversity, said Nathues.
Dawn launched nearly a decade ago, is on a mission to study the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres. These two celestial bodies were selected because they could give researchers a better understanding of the conditions and processes during the early formation of the solar system.