The left-hand image is a Dawn FC (framing camera) image, which shows the apparent brightness of Vesta’s surface. The right-hand image is based on this apparent brightness image, which has had a color-coded height representation of the topography overlain onto it. The topography is calculated from a set of images that were observed from different viewing directions, which allows stereo reconstruction. The various colors correspond to the height of the area. The white and red areas in the topography image are the highest areas and the blue areas are the lowest areas. Serena is the large crater offset to the left of the center of the image. There are patches of dark and bright material in Serena crater. They tend to originate slightly below the rim of the crater and then cascade down towards its center. The left side of Serena crater seems to be more degraded and shallower than the right side. The topography image confirms this: there are many more colored topography contours on the right side of the crater, which indicates that this side has a steeper slope. It can also be seen in the topography image that Serena crater formed on a slope. The more degraded and shallow side of the crater is located at the higher part of the slope. It is possible that material cascading down from the top of the slope caused this side of the crater to become more degraded and shallower.
These images are located in Vesta’s Sextilia quadrangle, in Vesta’s southern hemisphere. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained the apparent brightness image with its framing camera on Oct. 28, 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 70 meters (230 feet) per pixel. This image was acquired during the HAMO (high-altitude mapping orbit) phase of the mission. These images are lambert-azimuthal map projected.
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