This Dawn framing camera (FC) image of Vesta shows a relatively smooth area of Vesta’s surface. This region is smooth because it is mostly covered by fine-grained debris, known as regolith. There are some fresh impact craters that are younger than the regolith. These craters are generally small, less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) in diameter, and have fresh rims. Some of the larger craters with more degraded rims may be craters that are older than the regolith and were partially buried by it. Many linear features are also seen in the regolith. Small-scale grooves and ridges, which are less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) in width, run diagonally across the image from top left to bottom right and from top right to bottom left.
This image is located in Vesta’s Rheasilvia quadrangle, near the Vestan south pole. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on Dec. 18, 2011. This image was taken through the camera’s clear filter. The distance to the surface of Vesta is 272 kilometers (169 miles) and the image has a resolution of about 25 meters (82 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