NASA launches web tool for exploring asteroid Vesta

NASA has launched a new web tool that is akin to Google Earth, only it allows Internet goers to explore the asteroid Vesta. Vesta is said to be one of the largest asteroids in our solar system, and it was studied by the spacecraft Dawn from summer 2011 to late summer 2012. The web tool includes a lot of data that was gathered by the spacecraft during its mission, which the user can select as desired in the course of things. Included with the tool are "standard keyboard gaming controls", 3D topography that can be exported, and more.

The new web tool was launched on Tuesday, with NASA saying that it provides citizen scientists and others with the tools they need to get started with studying the space rock. Interactive maps are provided with different overlay options that provide details including visuals on everything from mineralogy to gamma rays.

Different regions of the asteroid are labelled with their titles, users can leverage the convenience of touchscreens with pinch-to-zoom and similar functions. Vesta Trek, as the tool is called, represents only part of Dawn's grand missions in the universe around us.

The Dawn spacecraft is still out exploring the asteroid belt, and early last month it arrived at Ceres, a dwarf planet. The Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project, called LMMP, will keep working with the Dawn mission, says NASA, and so perhaps we'll be seeing similar tools in the future.