This Dawn framing camera (FC) image of Vesta shows Helena crater, which is the crater that resembles the shape of a butterfly’s wings in the center of the image, and Laelia crater, which is the crater in the bottom right corner of the image. Helena is approximately 22 kilometers (14 miles) in diameter and Laelia is approximately 9 kilometers (6 miles) in diameter. There are many areas of dark material in and around Laelia crater. Some of this dark material crops out from the crater’s rim and slumps towards its center, while other patches of dark material, mostly associated with smaller craters, surround Laelia. There is another, similarly sized crater, which appears to be overlapped by Helena crater. Helena looks slightly fresher than this other crater so it is likely Helena that is the younger crater.
This image is located in Vesta’s Sextilia quadrangle, in Vesta’s southern hemisphere. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on Oct. 13, 2011. This image was taken through the camera’s clear filter. The distance to the surface of Vesta is 700 kilometers (435 miles) and the image has a resolution of about 68 meters (223 feet) per pixel. This image was acquired during the HAMO (high-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