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The Dawn Topography Investigation


The objective of the Dawn topography investigation is to derive the detailed shapes of 4 Vesta and 1 Ceres in order to create orthorectified image mosaics for geologic interpretation, as well as to study the asteroids’ landforms, interior structure, and the processes that have modified their surfaces over geologic time. In this paper we describe our approaches for producing shape models, plans for acquiring the needed image data for Vesta, and the results of a numerical simulation of the Vesta mapping campaign that quantify the expected accuracy of our results. Multi-angle images obtained by Dawn’s framing camera will be used to create topographic models with 100 m/pixel horizontal resolution and 10 m height accuracy at Vesta, and 200 m/pixel horizontal resolution and 20 m height accuracy at Ceres. Two different techniques, stereophotogrammetry and stereophotoclinometry, are employed to model the shape; these models will be merged with the asteroidal gravity fields obtained by Dawn to produce geodetically controlled topographic models for each body. The resulting digital topography models, together with the gravity data, will reveal the tectonic, volcanic and impact history of Vesta, and enable co-registration of data sets to determine Vesta’s geologic history. At Ceres, the topography will likely reveal much about processes of surface modification as well as the internal structure and evolution of this dwarf planet.

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The authors are grateful for support of the Virtual Vesta analysis by the Dawn project team, and for the comments of two anonymous reviewers, which improved the paper. A portion of this work was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with NASA.

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Correspondence to C. A. Raymond.

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Government sponsorship acknowledged.

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Raymond, C.A., Jaumann, R., Nathues, A. et al. The Dawn Topography Investigation. Space Sci Rev 163, 487–510 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11214-011-9863-z

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  • Vesta
  • Ceres
  • Dawn
  • Asteroid topography