This image, one of the first obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft in its low altitude mapping orbit, shows a part of one of the troughs at the equator of the giant asteroid Vesta.

This image, one of the first obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft in its low altitude mapping orbit, shows a part of one of the troughs at the equator of the giant asteroid Vesta. In the image, the floor of one of the equatorial troughs appears as the brighter deposit at the bottom of this image, contrasted against the darker band of the trough edge.

The image was taken on Dec. 13, 2011, by Dawn's framing camera. The image is centered around minus 6 degrees latitude and 60 degrees longitude. It was obtained at an altitude of 115 miles (185 kilometers). The image covers an area 11 miles by 11 miles (18 kilometers by 18 kilometers).

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. 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.

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