This image obtained by the framing camera on NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows the south pole of the giant asteroid Vesta.
Scientists are discussing whether the circular structure that covers most of this image originated by a collision with another asteroid, or by internal processes early in the asteroid's history. Images in higher resolution from Dawn's lowered orbit might help answer that question.
The image was recorded with the framing camera aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft from a distance of about 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers). The image resolution is about 260 meters per pixel.
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. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. The Dawn framing cameras were 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://www.nasa.gov/dawn and http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov.