This Dawn FC (framing camera) image shows impact ejecta deposits dominating Vesta's landscape. This impact ejecta material was ejected from an impact crater located outside the imaged area. When this fine-grained ejecta was deposited on Vesta's surface the underlying topography was smoothed out, which results in the subdued and blurred appearance of the landscape in this image. Large, house-sized boulders are scattered across the surface and these are especially clear in the lower right part of the image. Large boulders such as these are also frequently ejected as impact craters form. Some younger, fresher impact craters have been superimposed onto the ejecta deposits and are visible across the image.
This image is located in Vesta's Numisia quadrangle and the center of the image is 1.0 degrees south latitude, 269.0 degrees east longitude. NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on Dec. 18, 2011. This image was taken through the camera's clear filter. The distance to the surface of Vesta is 200 kilometers (124 miles) and the image has a resolution of about 18 meters (59 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 the Dawn mission is online at http://www.nasa.gov/dawn and http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov.