This Dawn Framing Camera (FC) image of Vesta shows an escarpment near Vesta's south pole. An escarpment is a cliff or steep slope and the escarpment in this image runs diagonally from the top to the bottom of the image. It is identified by the dark shadow that it casts to its left side. Roughly 25 kilometers (16 miles) of the escarpment is visible in this image, but its total length is more than this because it extends off the top and bottom of the image. The shape model of Vesta is necessary to find an accurate height of the escarpment. The formation mechanism of escarpments on Vesta is currently being investigated. There are many smaller scale grooves also running diagonally across the image on either side of the escarpment.
This image is located in Vesta's Rheasilvia quadrangle, near Vesta's south pole. NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on April 8, 2012. This image was taken through the camera's clear filter. The distance to the surface of Vesta is 241 kilometers (150 miles) and the image has a resolution of about 24 meters (79 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://www.nasa.gov/dawn and http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov.