This Dawn Framing Camera (FC) image of Vesta shows chains of craters on an undulating surface. This undulating surface is probably formed of fine-grained debris, called regolith, which was ejected from large impact craters as they formed nearby. A part of such a large crater is visible in the bottom left of the image. It is possible that the chains of craters were formed by material ejected during the formation of this large crater because they are aligned roughly perpendicular to the rim of the crater. This is the alignment that would be expected for large blocks of material thrown out of the crater. Then as these blocks scoured across Vesta’s surface they may have formed the chains of craters.
This image is located in Vesta’s Bellicia 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