Asteroid: Difference between revisions
== Exploration ==
[[Image:Vesta-HST-Color.jpg|thumb|right|Vesta, imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope]]
[[Image:951 Gaspra.jpg|thumb|right|[[951 Gaspra]]
Until the age of [[Spaceflight|space travel]], objects in the asteroid belt were merely pinpricks of light in even the largest telescopes and their shapes and terrain remained a mystery. The best modern ground-based telescopes and the Earth-orbiting [[Hubble Space Telescope]] can resolve a small amount of detail on the surfaces of the largest asteroids, but even these mostly remain little more than fuzzy blobs. Limited information about the shapes and compositions of asteroids can be inferred from their [[light curve]]s (their variation in brightness as they rotate) and their spectral properties, and asteroid sizes can be estimated by timing the lengths of star occulations (when an asteroid passes directly in front of a star). [[Radar]] imaging can yield good information about asteroid shapes and orbital and rotational parameters, especially for near-Earth asteroids.