Take a virtual tour of Vesta with new high resolution Atlases

Vesta atlasAn atlas of the asteroid, Vesta, created from images taken during the Dawn Mission’s Low Altitude Mapping Orbit (LAMO), is now accessible for the public to explore online. The set of maps has been created from mosaics of 10 000 images from Dawn’s framing camera (FC) instrument, taken at an average altitude of about 210 kilometres. The maps are mostly at a scale of 1:200 0000 (1 centimetre = 2 kilometres), about that of regional road touring maps. The atlas will be presented by Dr Thomas Roatsch on Wednesday 11 September at the at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) 2013 in London.

“Creating the atlas has been a painstaking task – each map sheet of this series has used about 400 images,’ said Dr Roatsch. ‘The atlas shows how extreme the terrain is on such a small body as Vesta. In the south pole projection alone, the Severina crater contours reach a depth of 18 kilometres; just over a hundred kilometres away the mountain peak towers 7 kilometres above the ellipsoid reference level.”

The atlas comprises 29 maps using three different projections: Mercator for equatorial regions, Lambert conical projections for mid-latitudes and a stereographic projection for the Rheasilvia basin at Vesta’s south pole. Because the LAMO mapping phase took place during northern winter on Vesta, when the north pole was in complete darkness, the thirtieth tile of Vesta’s north pole is blank. A few gaps in the LAMO coverage were filled with lower resolution images taken during the High Altitude Mapping Orbit (HAMO) at 700 kilometres above the surface of Vesta.

As well as the high-resolution map tiles, each of the downloadable files for the atlas also includes an index map, a perspective view and a colour-coded and shaded relief map. Contour lines have been derived from a digital terrain model of Vesta and are based on a flattened ellipsoid 285 kilometres by 229 kilometres at its widest point.

For the purposes of the Atlas, Vesta’s prime meridian (zero degrees longitude) passes close to the tiny crater Claudia, measuring approximately 620 m in diameter, at 1.66°S and 356°E. All positions used by the Dawn project are in that Claudia system. The names of all geological features relate to Roman Vestals, famous Roman women, cities in which the cult of Vesta is known or festivals in which the Vestals participated. The nomenclature was proposed by the Dawn team and approved by the International Astronomical Union.

In the same session at EPSC 2013, Dr Alessandro Frigeri will present the first complete version of the Vesta Atlas of Spectral Parameters, from which information on the mineralogy of the surface of the asteroid can be inferred. The spectral Atlas represents a composite of all the observations made by the Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIR), creating a total of 84 digital maps with the same projection scheme used for the image atlas.

“The two Atlases are complementary,” said Frigeri. “By matching the spectral data with the images from the Framing Camera Atlas of Vesta, we can correlate the mineralogy to the main topographical features on the asteroid.”

IMAGES

An atlas of the asteroid, Vesta, created from mosaics of 10 000 images from Dawn’s framing camera (FC) instrument, taken during the Dawn Mission’s Low Altitude Mapping Orbit (LAMO) an altitude of around 210 kilometres. The maps are mostly at a scale of 1:200 0000 (1 centimetre = 2 kilometres),at: http://dawn_gis.dlr.de/atlas_dir/lamo/index.html#aricia

http://www.europlanet-eu.org/images/stories/ep/EPSC/epsc2013/vir_altas.jpg

FURTHER INFORMATION

The Dawn spacecraft orbited Vesta for more than a year, departing in September 2012. Dawn is now on its way to the dwarf planet Ceres, and will arrive in early 2015.

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. The University of California, Los Angeles, is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. The Dawn framing cameras were 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.

The Dawn Visual and Infrared (VIR) Imaging Spectrometer was built by Selex – ES and the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF) and funded by the Italian Space Agency.The Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. More information about VIR is available at http://www.iaps.inaf.it/solarsystem.

SCIENCE CONTACTS

Thomas Roatsch

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

Berlin, Germany

thomas.roatsch@dlr.de

Alessandro Frigeri

INAF-IAPS

Rome, Italy

alessandro.frigeri@iaps.inaf.it

MEDIA CONTACTS

Anita Heward

EPSC 2013 Press Officer

anitaheward@btinternet.com

+44 7756034243

Oli Usher

Communications Manager

MAPS Faculty, UCL

o.usher@ucl.ac.uk

Manuela Braun

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR)

Berlin, Germany

manuela.braun@dlr.de

Livia Giacomini

INAF-IAPS

Rome, Italy

livia.giacomini@iaps.inaf.it

NOTES FOR EDITORS

About the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC)

EPSC is the major European meeting on planetary science. EPSC 2013 is taking place at University College London (UCL) from Sunday 8 September to Friday 13 September 2013. It is the first time that the Congress has been held in the UK. The 2013 programme includes around 75 sessions and workshops. Details of the Congress and a full schedule of EPSC 2013 scientific sessions and events can be found at the official website: http://www.epsc2013.eu/

EPSC 2013 is organised by Europlanet, UCL and Copernicus Meetings and the event is sponsored by the UK Space Agency, UCL, Astrium and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

To celebrate EPSC coming to London, a ‘Festival of the Planets’ has been organised across the Capital in collaboration with partners including the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers, the Bloomsbury Theatre, the British Astronomical Association, the British Interplanetary Society, the Natural History Museum, the Open University, Queen Mary University of London, the Royal Astronomical Society, Royal Museums Greenwich and University College London. More information about the events can be found at:

http://www.europlanet-eu.org/epsc2013/outreach-activities

Follow #epsc2013 @epsc2013 @europlanetmedia on Twitter

About Europlanet

Europlanet is a network of planetary scientists, whose aim is to bring together the disparate European community so that Europe can play a leading role in space exploration. Europlanet’s activities complement the mission activities of the European Space Agency through field work at planetary-analogue terrains on Earth, laboratory measurements, computer modelling and observations from ground-based telescopes. Founded in 2002 and funded by the European Commission from 2005-2012, Europlanet has evolved into a community-based organisation that will carry on this work and plan for future missions and mission support.

www.europlanet-eu.org

About UCL (University College London)

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine.

UCL is among the world's top universities, as reflected by its performance in a range of international rankings and tables. According to the Thomson Scientific Citation Index, UCL is the second most highly cited European university and the 15th most highly cited in the world.

UCL has nearly 27,000 students from 150 countries and more than 9,000 employees, of whom one third are from outside the UK. The university is based in Bloomsbury in the heart of London, but also has two international campuses – UCL Australia and UCL Qatar. Its annual income is more than £800 million.

www.ucl.ac.uk | Follow us on Twitter @uclnews | Watch our YouTube channel YouTube.com/UCLTV

About DLR

DLR is the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany. Its extensive research and development work in aeronautics, space, energy, transport and security is integrated into national and international cooperative ventures. In addition to its own research, as Germany's space agency, DLR has been given responsibility by the federal government for the planning and implementation of the German space programme. DLR is also the umbrella organisation for the nation’s largest project execution organisation.

DLR's mission comprises the exploration of Earth and the Solar System and research for protecting the environment. This includes the development of environment-friendly technologies for energy supply and future mobility, as well as for communications and security. DLR's research portfolio ranges from fundamental research to the development of products for tomorrow. In this way, DLR contributes the scientific and technical expertise that it has acquired to the enhancement of Germany as a location for industry and technology. DLR operates major research facilities for its own projects and as a service for clients and partners. It also fosters the development of the next generation of researchers, provides expert advisory services to government and is a driving force in the regions where its facilities are located.

www.dlr.de