NASA offers the Vesta Trek application to take a virtual tour of the giant asteroid Vesta

The Vesta Trek web application
The Vesta Trek web application

NASA activated a new section of its website to host the application Vesta Trek, which aims to provide a detailed view of the giant asteroid Vesta. This application works in browsers allowing anyone to explore Vesta in detail thanks to its interactive maps. Among its tools, there’s also one that allows you to export topographic elements to recreate them with a 3D printer.

The giant asteroid Vesta is now widely known thanks to the fact that NASA’s space probe Dawn studied it from its orbit for over a year between July 2011 and September 2012. In November 2014 even geological maps of Vesta were published which revealed with details never before seen features of its surface.

If even that’s not enough, now you can make a virtual tour of Vesta on your browser thatnks to the application Vesta Trek. It was developed by NASA’s Lunar Mapping and Modeling Project (LMMP), which provides analysis and data visualization tools for lunar missions to scientists and the mission managers. Vesta Trek is the first application of the LMMP team skills beyond the Moon.

When the application Vesta Trek is activated, users are asked if they wants to take a tour of the features available. It’s a help for those who don’t know it yet and includes a series of short explanations of the tools and various possibilities to use Vesta Trek.

This application can be useful for researchers who want to analyze the information collected by the Dawn space probe about Vesta but also to amateurs who want to know more about it. So this is a scientific instrument and at the same time an interactive experience that, like a game, allows to move on the surface of this giant asteroid.

Among the tools available in Vesta Trek there’s one that allows you to export topographic features to reproduce with a 3D printer. You can select the area to recreate, from a single element to the entire asteroid, in this case printable in two halves. 3D printers are not yet widespread but if you are lucky enough to have access to one of them you must take advantage of it!

Vesta Trek is an advanced tool that uses Internet technologies to help scientific research and popularization as well. If the case of the giant asteroid Vesta, it’s a protoplanet that bears the marks of the solar system’s history, in the future they could create similar applications for other celestial bodies interesting for other reasons.

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