A Snowman on Vesta

A set of three conjoined craters on Vesta

Aptly nicknamed the “Snowman”, these three craters were imaged on August 6, 2011 by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft in orbit around the protoplanet Vesta. Located on Vesta’s northern hemisphere, the craters were first visible to researchers on July 23.

Dawn has been in orbit around Vesta for one month now and has already returned many amazingly detailed images of the massive asteroid’s surface. It’s hard to believe that until these past few weeks all we had ever seen of this world were blurry images, and now we’re nicknaming surface features! Now that the science portion of the mission is under way, new images like this are coming in almost daily.

You can follow Dawn’s progress on the mission site here.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA. (Edited by J. Major.)