This Dawn framing camera (FC) image of Vesta shows linear grooves and ridges in Vesta's regolith. These linear features generally run diagonally across the image from the top left to the bottom right. They are less than 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) in width and some have lengths that extend across the entire image. The grooves and ridges are not perfectly linear and most are slightly curve in one or more areas. These linear features have formed in Vesta's covering of fine particles, called the regolith. The regolith is reasonably easy to identify because it has a smooth texture in the framing camera images. It has a smooth texture because it is made of fine-grained particles, much like the sand on a beach looks smooth from a distance. The origin of these grooves and ridges is currently being investigated.
This image is located in Vesta's Tuccia quadrangle, in Vesta's southern hemisphere. 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 188 kilometers (117 miles) and the image has a resolution of about 17 meters (56 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.