Must Watch: NASA's Amazing 3D Video of Asteroid Vesta

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Back in July, NASA's Dawn probe began orbiting the asteroid Vesta. As it approached, and while it orbited, Dawn was busy recording images, which members of the Dawn team here on Earth have compiled into a 3-D video. (You can see it without 3-D glasses, but for the full effect, you could buy a pair, or make your own.)

At 330 miles in diameter, Vesta is large enough for some astronomers to classify it as a protoplanet, a body with the potential to have developed into a rocky world-even though it's too small and irregularly shaped to qualify for dwarf planet status. The features that Dawn has discovered on its surface, however, make Vesta look more planet-like than ever. Some of these formed as a result of tectonic activity like that on Earth, while others are due to impacts from other space objects.


Using 3-D imaging, the video shows off the strange troughs along Vesta's equator, a mountain more than twice Everest's height, and plenty of pits and craters-including two that sit side-by-side, leading to the nickname "the snowman."

Video courtesy of NASA