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Blog Archive


DPS 2015: Solar System Formation

Posted by Erika NesvoldJohn Debes on 2015/11/20 05:47 CST

At the 47th Division of Planetary Systems meeting, many presentations touched on some of the most contentious and poorly known aspects of how planets form.

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Dawn Journal: 8 Years in Space

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/09/28 07:49 CDT | 18 comments

On the 8th anniversary of the launch of the Dawn spacecraft, Chief Engineer and Mission Director Marc Rayman gives his annual summary of Dawn’s progress on its interplanetary travels.

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What did Dawn learn at Vesta?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/09 03:53 CDT | 12 comments

It's now been two years since Dawn wrapped up its work at the second-largest asteroid. What else did we get from the Vesta encounter besides great photos? Recently, I asked Dawn's deputy project scientist, Carol Raymond, for help in summarizing a few of the big things Dawn taught us.

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Pretty pictures: Vesta's dark material

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/09/05 10:38 CDT | 1 comments

More masterful processing of Dawn Vesta images by Björn Jónsson, including Aelia crater and some mysterious dark splats near Fulvia crater.

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Dark mountain on Vesta: Aricia Tholus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/07/28 03:07 CDT | 1 comments

Newly processed images of one of the more puzzling features on the surface of Vesta: a dark mountain named Aricia Tholus.

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LPSC 2014: Water on...Vesta?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/21 04:03 CDT | 3 comments

At the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, Jennifer Scully discussed possible water-carved gullies in an unusual location: within craters on Vesta. Water-carved gullies on Mars I can accept; but on an airless lumpy body? I was intrigued.

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Intro Astronomy Class 6: Mars (continued) and Asteroids

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/14 06:10 CDT

Continue exploring Mars and learn about asteroids in this video of class 6 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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Pretty Picture: Three Wanderers

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/12 12:34 CDT

With all the excitement happening on missions criscrossing the solar system, I often forget to enjoy the views of our solar system that we can achieve from home. Amateur astronomers don't make the same mistake. Here's a lovely photo that Stuart Atkinson sent me, captured last night from Kendal, England, showing four special wanderers.

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Mission Leader Bruce Jakosky's MAVEN Prepares for Mars
Exploring the Red Planet's Climate History

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/09/17 11:06 CDT

Pay attention! This Mars orbiter, headed for launch in November, is a terrific science mission, as Mat Kaplan learned in a recent workshop, and in this week's Planetary Radio.

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Two new ways to browse Vesta: 2. Vesta Image data browser

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/16 10:57 CDT

A few weeks ago I received an email pointing me to a really cool new map-based browser to Dawn's Vesta image data.

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Two new ways to browse Vesta: 1. Vesta Low-Altitude Mapping Orbit (LAMO) Atlas

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/09/16 10:57 CDT

Last week was the European Planetary Science Congress in London, and there's been a lot of science news. One thing that caught my eye Friday was the publication of a new atlas for Vesta.

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Dawn Journal: Distant interplanetary adventurer

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/08/30 04:28 CDT | 1 comments

Traveling confidently and alone, Dawn continues to make its way through the silent depths of the main asteroid belt. The interplanetary adventurer is on its long journey to the uncharted dwarf planet Ceres, by far the largest of all asteroids.

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Producing global views of Vesta from archival data

Posted by Björn Jónsson on 2013/08/21 12:18 CDT | 3 comments

Björn Jónsson produces beautiful color and 3D global mosaics of Vesta from Dawn's archival data.

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Dawn Journal: Craving Power

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/07/30 01:12 CDT | 5 comments

Ion propulsion is not a source of power for Dawn. Rather, the craft needs a great deal of power to operate its ion propulsion system and all other systems. It needs so much that...we crave power!!

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Terra Cognita

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/07/29 01:18 CDT | 4 comments

Pushing back the frontier, and filling in the blank spaces on the map.

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Dawn Journal: Breaking Velocity Records

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/07/02 10:26 CDT | 7 comments

The indefatigable Dawn spacecraft is continuing its extraordinary interplanetary flight on behalf of inquisitive creatures on distant Earth. Progressing ever farther from Vesta, the rocky and rugged world it so recently explored, the ship is making good progress toward its second port of call, dwarf planet Ceres.

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Planetary Radio: Don't Step in That Puddle!
The Strong Evidence for Water on the Moon

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/07/01 06:18 CDT

The Planetary Science Institute's Amanda Hendrix is the guest for our July 1 episode. She finds water in the least likely places, including Luna.

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Worlds in Collision

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2013/06/25 04:38 CDT | 6 comments

Meet some worlds that were nearly shattered, literally.

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Dawn Journal: Thrusting to a new personal best

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/06/02 12:07 CDT | 2 comments

Traveling from one alien world to another, Dawn is reliably powering its way through the main asteroid belt with its ion propulsion system. Vesta falls farther and farther behind as the spacecraft gently and patiently reshapes its orbit around the sun, aiming for a 2015 rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres.

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Dawn Journal: A low-orbit shortcut to Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/05/02 02:11 CDT

Marc Rayman's latest Dawn Journal explains why Dawn is currently closer to the Sun than both Ceres and Vesta.

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