Geologic map of the northern hemisphere of Vesta based on Dawn Framing Camera (FC) images

Ottaviano Ruesch, Harald Hiesinger, David T. Blewett, David Williams, Debra Buczkowski, Jennifer Scully, R. Aileen Yingst, Thomas Roatsch, Frank Preusker, Ralf Jaumann, Christopher T. Russell, Carol A. Raymond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The Dawn Framing Camera (FC) has imaged the northern hemisphere of the Asteroid (4) Vesta at high spatial resolution and coverage. This study represents the first investigation of the overall geology of the northern hemisphere (22-90°N, quadrangles Av-1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) using these unique Dawn mission observations. We have compiled a morphologic map and performed crater size-frequency distribution (CSFD) measurements to date the geologic units. The hemisphere is characterized by a heavily cratered surface with a few highly subdued basins up to ~200. km in diameter. The most widespread unit is a plateau (cratered highland unit), similar to, although of lower elevation than the equatorial Vestalia Terra plateau. Large-scale troughs and ridges have regionally affected the surface. Between ~180°E and ~270°E, these tectonic features are well developed and related to the south pole Veneneia impact (Saturnalia Fossae trough unit), elsewhere on the hemisphere they are rare and subdued (Saturnalia Fossae cratered unit). In these pre-Rheasilvia units we observed an unexpectedly high frequency of impact craters up to ~10. km in diameter, whose formation could in part be related to the Rheasilvia basin-forming event. The Rheasilvia impact has potentially affected the northern hemisphere also with S-N small-scale lineations, but without covering it with an ejecta blanket. Post-Rheasilvia impact craters are small (<60. km in diameter) and show a wide range of degradation states due to impact gardening and mass wasting processes. Where fresh, they display an ejecta blanket, bright rays and slope movements on walls. In places, crater rims have dark material ejecta and some crater floors are covered by ponded material interpreted as impact melt.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-59
Number of pages19
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Asteroid Vesta
  • Asteroids, surfaces
  • Geological processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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