If the purpose for making a bootable ghost image is to save the partition for later restoration, then this is easy to do with several 3rd party apps. If it's for the purpose of booting the image off of the USB drive, then it's not so easy to do.
Acronis True Image (approx $50 US) will allow you to make an image of your hard drive, and will also have you make bootable media (a CD/DVD) so that you can boot from it and restore the image off of the USB drive. I haven't tried any of the freeware applications that do this, so I'm afraid I can't recommend any (check this topic for some suggestions: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic3616.html
If you want to boot off the USB drive to reinstall the image, then that'll be more difficult. You'll have to make the USB drive bootable with an OS that will recognize USB devices and will match with the image software restore program.
If you're just trying to boot to the OS on the USB drive, then that'll be even more difficult (and I don't know about doing it with Vista). I considered trying this with XP at one point (and found this article: http://www.ngine.de/article/id/8
) but found it to be too much trouble for me.
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