This Dawn framing camera (FC) image of Vesta is dominated by a chain of secondary craters that runs diagonally across the image from the top right to the bottom left. The chain is in one part in the top right of the image but splits into two parts in the bottom left of the image. It is likely that this chain of craters was formed by debris ejected from a larger crater just after it was formed. The craters in this chain are called secondary craters because they are not formed by debris that originate in space but from debris thrown out from a primary crater created by the impact of debris from space.
This image is located in Vesta's Floronia quadrangle, in Vesta's northern hemisphere. 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 272 kilometers (169 miles) and the image has a resolution of about 25 meters (82 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.