Science and Exploration

NASA Dawn Image of Asteroid Vesta: Fresh Crater Inside a Rectangular Crater

By Marc Boucher
April 2, 2012
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NASA Dawn Image of Asteroid Vesta: Fresh Crater Inside a Rectangular Crater

Towards the bottom of this Dawn FC (framing camera) image, slightly offset from the image center, is a small, young, fresh crater within a rectangular, older, heavily eroded crater. When the rectangular crater formed it was probably more circular in shape and then became more rectangular due to erosion and slumping of material.
The whole area shown in this image is heavily cratered and covered by fine material. This fine material results in the surface looking relatively smooth and is particularly apparent in the bottom right corner of the image. There are a number of narrow grooves, less than a kilometer (0.6 mile) across, running obliquely across this image. Some of these grooves cut across the rectangular crater.

This image is located in Vesta’s Gegania quadrangle, north of the equator. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on Oct. 27, 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.

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. Image Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech/ UCLA/ MPS/ DLR/ IDA. Larger image.

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