This Dawn framing camera (FC) image of Vesta shows a part of Vesta’s surface that is covered by heavily cratered regolith. Regolith is the fine-grained material that covers most of Vesta’s surface. It falls onto the surface after it is ejected during the formation of impact craters. The regolith has a characteristic smooth appearance in these images because it is fine-grained. There are many linear features running diagonally across the regolith, which may be due to movement of the regolith. The regolith is also heavily cratered: there are craters that range from being very fresh to very degraded. Some craters have been buried by the regolith and are only just visible as shallow, circular depressions.
This image is located in Vesta’s Lucaria Tholus quadrangle, just north of Vesta’s equator. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on April 10, 2012. This image was taken through the camera’s clear filter. The distance to the surface of Vesta is 169 kilometers (105 miles) and the image has a resolution of about 16 meters (53 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