NASA unveils Google Earth-inspired 3D model of Vesta asteroid

Due to an application grant submitted by NASA, the general public will have the chance to explore the surface of asteroid Vesta.

Just when we thought that Google Earth was the most innovative web-based application because of its ability to show a 3D view of a selected location, NASA has topped it with the release of an application that will allow scientists to explore the surface of the asteroid Vesta. After a year-long visit in orbit circling Vesta, the agency’s spacecraft, ‘Dawn,’ has captured enough data for the new 3D model that will allow users the opportunity to make observations in excellent detail of this body in our solar system. Now we can engage with an object in solar space in a more intimate manner.

The very detailed options bar has a tutorial feature that will allow you to interact and observe the surface of Vesta above the capability of applications like Google Earth. You have the option of viewing it in 2d or 3D and includes options for viewing such as global, and North or South Pole. You can choose from a number of overlays on the ‘My Data’ tab with options like geology, mineral ratio and for those inquiring minds that wish to go further, there is a high-energy gamma-ray count rate. There is also a user-friendly color legend to help viewers understand what they are viewing.

If the 3D experience wasn’t great enough, you also have the ability to print your own model of the asteroid using a 3D printer. ‘There’s nothing like seeing something with your own eyes, but these types of detailed data visualizations are the next best thing,’ stated Kristen Erickson who is the Director of Science Engagement and Partnerships at the NASA headquarters in Washington.

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