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8 asteroids in our solar system

false-color topography of the asteroid Vesta

Photo: NASA/JPL-CalTech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

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Vesta

[skipwords]Our solar system contains a large asteroid belt that resides between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. These asteroids can be as big as 583 miles across, though as many as 40,000 asteroids are no bigger than a few feet wide. Most of the mass of the belt comes from its four largest asteroids, 1 Ceres, 2 Pallas, 4 Vesta, and 10 Hygeia. (Ceres is actually a dwarf planet.) NASA has launched a robotic spacecraft called Dawn to study these asteroids. Here, Dawn images the giant asteroid Vesta from stereo images obtained by the framing camera. “The image shows the elevation of surface structures with a horizontal resolution of about 750 meters per pixel,” writes NASA.[/skipwords]