This Dawn Framing Camera (FC) image of Vesta shows a part of the surface in Vesta’s northern hemisphere, which is scoured by many grooves with different orientations. These grooves are much longer than they are wide: some can be traced nearly all the way across the image but they are less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) wide. Grooves on Vesta are thought to form by a number of processes and it is possible that these grooves formed by movement of the regolith on Vesta’s surface. The mechanism for the movement could be a creep-like process. The regolith is formed by repeated impacts into the asteroid, which creates the fine-grained regolith that covers Vesta in a sandy-like layer.
This image is located in Vesta’s Domitia quadrangle, in Vesta’s northern hemisphere. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on March 16, 2012. 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