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Land ho!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/11 12:23 CDT

It's hard to convey just how excited I am to see Dawn's first image of asteroid Vesta.

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Dawn's Vesta phase timeline, a summary

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/03 01:18 CDT

Now that Dawn has finally begun its science mission at Vesta, I thought it'd be useful to go back through Marc Rayman's Dawn Journals to collect a summary of the plans for Vesta.

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So far, no moons found at Ceres or Vesta

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/15 02:37 CDT

Since the Galileo mission discovered tiny Dactyl circling Ida in 1993, quite a lot of asteroid systems have been found to be binary; there are even a few triples. So it's quite reasonable to guess that two of the biggest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta, might also have satellites.

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Dawn's instruments are being roused for Vesta approach

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/21 05:00 CDT

Today the Dawn imaging team released a photo from the main camera, the Framing Camera, symbolizing that they're preparing to start Dawn approach science; the other two science instruments, a spectrometer and a neutron detector, are also being turned on and checked out.

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Dawn Journal: HAMO2; the destination glows bright

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/03/09 01:06 CST

Deep in the asteroid belt, Dawn continues thrusting with its ion propulsion system. The spacecraft is making excellent progress in reshaping its orbit around the sun to match that of its destination, the unexplored world Vesta, with arrival now less than five months away.

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How much is Vesta's geology controlled by its one huge impact feature?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/07 02:09 CST

Here's a neat paper just published in Geophysical Research Letters: "Mega-ejecta on asteroid Vesta." In it, Martin Jutzi and Erik Asphaug consider Vesta's shape -- which appears to be dominated by a very large impact crater centered at its south pole -- and ask how much of the great big asteroid Vesta's global appearance is likely to be dominated by the effects of that one large impact.

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Dawn Journal: ORT ORT ORT

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/02/03 12:10 CST

Dawn continues its flight through the asteroid belt, steadily heading toward its July rendezvous with Vesta, where it will take up residence for a year. On January 10, Dawn performed some of the activities that it will execute in its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO) at Vesta.

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Happy 2011, and an end to the 2010 advent calendar

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/01/01 11:43 CST

Welcome 2011! I can't wait for what this year has in store. The prize for all of you who have enjoyed opening each door in the Planetary Society's 2010 advent calendar is one of the best views we can get of one of the biggest objects in the asteroid belt, Vesta.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: Small Worlds

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/12/27 03:56 CST

Today the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast aired my contribution, Small Worlds, about the smaller denizens of the solar system visited in the past year, and due to be visited in the next.

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How does Lutetia compare to the other asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/07/15 04:33 CDT

Almost a week after Rosetta flew past Lutetia, the asteroid is now a distant pinprick of light to the spacecraft, and the science team is getting down to the business of analyzing their data.

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