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Closing the gap between Earth-based and interplanetary mission observations: Vesta seen by VLT/SPHERE

Fétick, R. J. L. and Jorda, L. and Vernazza, P. and Marsset, M. and Drouard, A. and Fusco, T. and Carry, B. and Marchis, F. and Hanuš, J. and Viikinkoski, M. and Birlan, M. and Bartczak, P. and Berthier, J. and Castillo-Rogez, J. and Cipriani, F. and Colas, F. and Dudziński, G. and Dumas, C. and Ferrais, M. and Jehin, E. and Kaasalainen, M. and Kryszczynska, A. and Lamy, P. and Le Coroller, H. and Marciniak, A. and Michalowski, T. and Michel, P. and Mugnier, L. M. and Neichel, B. and Pajuelo, M. and Podlewska-Gaca, E. and Santana-Ros, T. and Tanga, P. and Vachier, F. and Vigan, A. and Witasse, O. and Yang, B. (2019) Closing the gap between Earth-based and interplanetary mission observations: Vesta seen by VLT/SPHERE. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 623 . Art. No. A6. ISSN 0004-6361.

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Context. Over the past decades, several interplanetary missions have studied small bodies in situ, leading to major advances in our understanding of their geological and geophysical properties. These missions, however, have had a limited number of targets. Among them, the NASA Dawn mission has characterised in detail the topography and albedo variegation across the surface of asteroid (4) Vesta down to a spatial resolution of ~20 m pixel⁻¹ scale. Aims. Here our aim was to determine how much topographic and albedo information can be retrieved from the ground with VLT/SPHERE in the case of Vesta, having a former space mission (Dawn) providing us with the ground truth that can be used as a benchmark. Methods. We observed Vesta with VLT/SPHERE/ZIMPOL as part of our ESO large programme (ID 199.C-0074) at six different epochs, and deconvolved the collected images with a parametric point spread function (PSF). We then compared our images with synthetic views of Vesta generated from the 3D shape model of the Dawn mission, on which we projected Vesta’s albedo information. Results. We show that the deconvolution of the VLT/SPHERE images with a parametric PSF allows the retrieval of the main topographic and albedo features present across the surface of Vesta down to a spatial resolution of ~20–30 km. Contour extraction shows an accuracy of ~1 pixel (3.6 mas). The present study provides the very first quantitative estimate of the accuracy of ground-based adaptive-optics imaging observations of asteroid surfaces. Conclusions. In the case of Vesta, the upcoming generation of 30–40 m telescopes (ELT, TMT, GMT) should in principle be able to resolve all of the main features present across its surface, including the troughs and the north–south crater dichotomy, provided that they operate at the diffraction limit.

Item Type:Article
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Fétick, R. J. L.0000-0002-1329-7603
Additional Information:© 2019 R. JL. Fétick et al. Open Access article, published by EDP Sciences, under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Received 30 November 2018; Accepted 12 January 2019; Published online 25 February 2019. This work was supported by the French Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) and Aix-Marseille Université (AMU). P.V., A.D., and B.C. were supported by CNRS/INSU/PNP. J.H. was supported by the grant 18-09470S of the Czech Science Foundation and by the Charles University Research Programme No. UNCE/SCI/023. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 730890. This material reflects only the authors’ views and the Commission is not liable for any use that may be made of the information contained herein. The authors thank S. Schröder for providing his reconstructed albedo map based on the Dawn images and for his very fruitful comments as a referee.
Group:Thirty Meter Telescope
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA)UNSPECIFIED
Aix-Marseille Université (AMU)UNSPECIFIED
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)UNSPECIFIED
Institut National des Sciences de l'Univers (INSU)UNSPECIFIED
Grantová Agentura České Republiky18-09470S
Charles UniversityUNCE/SCI/023
European Research Council (ERC)730890
Subject Keywords:techniques: high angular resolution – techniques: image processing – methods: observational – minor planets, asteroids: individual: Vesta
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200312-111336457
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Official Citation:Closing the gap between Earth-based and interplanetary mission observations: Vesta seen by VLT/SPHERE. R. JL. Fétick, L. Jorda, P. Vernazza, M. Marsset, A. Drouard, T. Fusco, B. Carry, F. Marchis, J. Hanuš, M. Viikinkoski, M. Birlan, P. Bartczak, J. Berthier, J. Castillo-Rogez, F. Cipriani, F. Colas, G. Dudziński, C. Dumas, M. Ferrais, E. Jehin, M. Kaasalainen, A. Kryszczynska, P. Lamy, H. Le Coroller, A. Marciniak, T. Michalowski, P. Michel, L. M. Mugnier, B. Neichel, M. Pajuelo, E. Podlewska-Gaca, T. Santana-Ros, P. Tanga, F. Vachier, A. Vigan, O. Witasse and B. Yang. A&A, 623 (2019) A6; DOI:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:101892
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:12 Mar 2020 20:14
Last Modified:12 Mar 2020 20:14

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