This Dawn FC (framing camera) image shows ejecta from two of the large “Snowman” craters on the left of the image. This ejecta smooths out Vesta’s surface in the rest of the image. When an impact creates a crater lots of small, loose material is commonly thrown out onto the surrounding surface. This small, loose material is called ejecta and is often identified by its distinguishingly smooth appearance. This ejecta only has a few, small, fresh impact craters on its surface and there are no visible older craters buried underneath it. As there are no craters visible underneath it, this ejecta must be reasonably thick. The bumpy texture in the ejecta in the top right of the image is probably caused by movement in the ejecta due to slumping. Near to the “Snowman” craters there are some lumpy structures in the ejecta. These may be larger pieces of debris that were thrown out during the impact which formed the ejecta and the “Snowman” craters.
This image is in Vesta’s Domitia quadrangle and the center latitude and longitude of the image is 29.8°N, 203.3°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