This Dawn Framing Camera (FC) image of Vesta shows a part of Vesta’s surface reasonably far north into the northern hemisphere. This image has a somewhat washed out appearance because it has been stretched to make features visible that would otherwise be too dark to see. The black areas in this image are regions that are still very dark even after the stretching. The most northerly part of Vesta’s northern hemisphere is in shadow because the Sun is not currently shining on it. This is similar to the way that Earth’s north pole is continually in darkness during the Earth’s winter. But, Vesta is currently moving into its springtime so the Sun’s light is gradually creeping further and further north and consequently illuminating more of Vesta’s surface.
This image is located in Vesta’s Caparronia quadrangle, far north in Vesta’s northern hemisphere. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on March 23, 2012. This image was taken through the camera’s clear filter. The distance to the surface of Vesta is 230 kilometers (143 miles) and the image has a resolution of about 21 meters (69 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