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Bright and dark west rim of Marcia crater on asteroid Vesta

Bright and Dark at West Rim of Marcia Crater

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March 21, 2012 - PASADENA, Calif. -- The interplay of bright and dark material at the rim of Marcia crater on Vesta is visible in this image mosaic taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The bright and dark material appear to be exposed from weathering. The scientific significance of the image remains open to several scientific interpretations. The dark material in this image could be in a layer of outcrops of material thrown out by old impacts that were later covered by subsequent impacts. They could also have developed when space rocks collided with the surface of Vesta to create nearby Minucia crater. Then, they may have been covered by bright material thrown out when an impact created Calpuria crater. The dark materials may also be ancient volcanic flows or intrusions exposed by the Marcia impact.

This images that make up the mosaic were obtained by Dawn's framing camera on Dec. 21, 2011, and Jan. 5, 2012, during the mission's low-altitude mapping orbit (on average 130 miles or 210 kilometers above the surface). This image covers about 100 square miles (250 square kilometers). Marcia crater is in Vesta's northern hemisphere.

The Dawn mission to the asteroids 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. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. 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.

For more information about the Dawn mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/dawn.

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

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