This Dawn framing camera (FC) image of Vesta shows a region of the surface that is rather smooth in appearance. This smooth appearance is probably due to this surface being covered with fine-grained material ejected from an impact crater that is not shown in this image. There are some small, fresh craters that are less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) in diameter that are formed on top of this ejecta-covered surface. There are also larger craters, typically in the range of 3 to 5 kilometers (1.9 to 3.1 miles) in diameter, that have very degraded rims and are probably partially buried by the ejecta. Hence, they are likely to be older than the ejecta material that covers this surface.
This image is located in Vesta’s Marcia quadrangle, near the Vestan equator. 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