By Dawn’s Early Light

by Jason Major on February 22, 2012

Vesta's surface textures get highlighted by dawn's light

Sunrise on Vesta highlights the asteroid’s varied surface textures in this image from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, released on Monday, Feb. 20. The image was taken on Dec. 18 with Dawn’s Framing Camera (FC).

Just as the low angle of  early morning sunlight casts long shadows on Earth, sunrise on Vesta has the same effect — although on Vesta it’s not trees and buildings that are being illuminated but rather deep craters and chains of pits!

The steep inner wall of a crater is seen at lower right with several landslides visible, its outer ridge cutting a sharp line.

Chains of pits are visible in the center of the view. These features are the result of ejected material from an impact that occurred outside of the image area.

Other lower-profile, likely older craters remain in shadow.

Many of these features would appear much less dramatic with a high angle of illumination, but they really shine brightest in dawn’s light.

See the full image release on the Dawn mission site here.

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

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

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