This Dawn FC (framing camera) image shows many linear or sinuous grooves crisscrossing the surface of Vesta. These grooves are less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) in width. They were created when large pieces of debris, which were ejected when material from space hit Vesta, grazed and scoured the surface. The large, circular depressions in this image are old, heavily degraded craters whose rims are barely visible. These heavily degraded craters have been almost completely filled up by material called regolith. Regolith consists of numerous small particles that were deposited or created by various impacts into Vesta.
This image is located in Vesta’s Gegania quadrangle and the center of the image is 10.8 degrees north latitude, 10.5 degrees east longitude. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on Dec. 13, 2011. This image was taken through the camera’s clear filter. The distance to the surface of Vesta is 189 kilometers (117 miles) and the image has a resolution of about 18 meters (59 feet) per pixel. This image was acquired during the LAMO (low-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