This Dawn FC (framing camera) image shows a part of the surface of Vesta, which is mantled (i.e. covered) by an ejecta blanket. This ejecta blanket is evident as the smoothly textured surface visible across the image. Ejecta blankets consist of small debris, which are ejected as impacts form craters. The crater from which this ejecta blanket originates may be the large shadowed crater in the top left of the image, or may be another nearby large crater outside of the image. There are a number of smaller, younger craters and irregularly shaped, small depressions on top of this ejecta blanket, particularly in the right side of the image. Solitary impact craters are formed by impacts of material from space. But the crater chains and irregularly shaped depressions are probably formed by boulders and other debris re-impacting the surface of Vesta after they are ejected from a nearby large impact. As they are impacting Vesta for the second time these crater chains and irregular depressions are called secondaries.
This image is in Vesta’s Domitia quadrangle and the center latitude and longitude of the image is 56.7°N, 190.1°E. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on October 19th 2011. This image was taken through the camera’s clear filter. The distance to the surface of Vesta is 702 km and the image has a resolution of about 70 meters per pixel. This image was acquired during the HAMO (High Altitude Mapping Orbit) phase of the mission.
The Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington D.C.. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. The Dawn framing cameras have been developed and built under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, with significant contributions by DLR German Aerospace Center, Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, and in coordination with the Institute of Computer and Communication Network Engineering, Braunschweig. The Framing Camera project is funded by the Max Planck Society, DLR, and NASA/JPL.
More information about Dawn is online at http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA