This detail of a Dawn FC (framing camera) image shows small scale features around Vesta’s south polar region. This image is from the High Altitude Mapping Orbit (HAMO), which contains the highest resolution images of Vesta taken to date (about 70m per pixel). The raised mound dominates this image, which is visible as the darker material in the centre and right of this image. This raised mound material overlies the brighter material that makes up the floor of the south polar depression (see in the left of the image). Many small scale craters are clear in this image which were not visible in earlier, less high resolution images. Also clear is the hummocky (eg. wavy/ undulating) texture of the terrain of the south polar region. The formation mechanism of this hummocky textured terrain is currently being debated.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on September 17th 2011. This image was taken through the camera’s clear filter. The distance to the surface is 750km and the image has a resolution of about 70 meters per pixel.
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://www.nasa.gov/dawn and http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA