This image from NASA's Dawn spacecraft is dominated by a double crater which may have been formed by the simultaneous impact of a binary asteroid. Binary asteroids are asteroids that orbit their mutual center of mass.
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Vesta's Cratered Landscape: Double Crater and Craters with Bright Ejecta

This Dawn FC (framing camera) image is dominated by a double crater, which is located in the top of the image. The left side crater is 18 km in diameter and the right side crater is 23 km in diameter. This double crater may have been formed by the simultaneous impact of a binary asteroid. Binary asteroids are asteroids that orbit their mutual center of mass. As they orbit a mutual center of mass they move on a nearly identical path through the solar system. Thus, when they are on a collision course with another body in the solar system, such as Vesta, they will both impact the body and create overlapping craters. It is unlikely that this double crater was formed by one impact and then another because both of the craters seem to have a similar freshness and hence a similar age. It is unlikely that two non-binary asteroids would impact nearly the same spot on Vesta at a similar time. Other remarkable features across the image are young, small craters featuring bright ejecta rays. The bright linear rays at the bottom of the image originate from craters outside of the imaged area.

This image is centered in Vesta's Tuccia quadrangle and the center latitude and longitude of the image is 31.2°S, 203.7°E. NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained this image with its framing camera on November 8th 2011. This image was taken through the camera's clear filter. The distance to the surface of Vesta is 483 km and the image has a resolution of about 45 meters per pixel. This image was acquired during the transfer to 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. Dawn's VIR was provided by ASI, the Italian Space Agency and is managed by INAF, Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics, in collaboration with Selex Galileo, where it was built.

More information about Dawn is online at http://www.nasa.gov/dawn and http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov.

Image details

ID#:
PIA15121

Date added:
2011-11-23

Target:
Vesta

Mission:
Dawn

Spacecraft:
Dawn

Instruments:
Framing Camera

Size:
1024 x 1024 pixels (width x height)

Rating:



Views:
2,370

Full-Res TIFF:
PIA15121.tif (1.05 MB)

Full-Res JPG:
PIA15121.jpg (0.15 MB)

Image credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA