Join in on groundbreaking science

Dawn's citizen science project, Asteroid Mappers, needs you

A sample Vesta image map in progress—what features have we missed? Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/CosmoQuest/McREL

In Asteroid Mappers, you are invited to investigate and analyze high-resolution Dawn images of Vesta, including craters and other features, from your own computer!

The Project

Who? You! You can be 12 or 72; a student, a teacher, a scientist; a surfer, an artist, a dog-lover—come one, come all. Explore cool images captured by NASA's Dawn mission at giant asteroid Vesta—many not yet released to the public!

How? Look close: count craters, discover boulder fields, mark unique features. Wonder. Question. Invite a friend to ponder a mysterious feature with you. Finish analyzing an image and send your work off to contribute to NASA's Dawn mission science!

Asteroid Mappers Vesta Edition

How do you start?

The Science

The Dawn Mission began getting up close and personal with giant asteroid (aka mini-planet) Vesta in July 2011. Over the ensuing year, the spacecraft's awesome instruments gathered intriguing data from this mysterious world in the main asteroid belt. They include tens of thousands of images taken by the framing camera, more images than the team has time to analyze in detail.

That's where you come in. You don't have to be a member of the Dawn team to engage in the art of interpreting the images. When all of us participate in the scientific endeavor, our accumulated findings can help the Dawn Science Team make sense of new elements on the surface of Vesta: its age, its composition, its revealing patterns.

The Partners

Asteroid Mappers is a collaboration between the Dawn science and education/public outreach teams and CosmoQuest. As in many compelling human endeavors, a bunch of people got together, explored ideas, shared resources, and broke new ground, this time following CosmoQuest's Citizen Science model.