This Dawn FC (framing camera) image shows different features that form in the regolith covering Vesta’s surface. Regolith is the layer of loose, small sized material which often covers the bedrock of planets. Sinuous features in the top of the image are probably due to slumping of this regolith on a slope, similar to the way that sand slumps on the sides of sand dunes. Many of the narrow linear features in the bottom of the image are also probably due to some sort of slumping in the regolith. However, some of these linear features appear to be originating from the roughly 6km diameter crater, in the bottom left of the image, so they may have been formed by debris ejected from this crater scouring across Vesta’s surface. Also, the large crater on the bottom right side of the image has both bright and dark material cropping out in its interior and slumping towards its center.
This image is in Vesta’s Numisia and Tuccia quadrangles and the center latitude and longitude of the image is 23.4°S, 227.9°E. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on October 17th 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