Three talks on Tuesday at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference concerned the first results from Dawn at Ceres. Chris Russell showed a map of "quads" with provisional names on Ceres, Andreas Nathues showed that Ceres' bright spot might be an area of plume-like activity, and Francesca Zambon showed color and temperature variations across the dwarf planet.
A huge amount of effort goes into deciding where to try to collect a sample on Bennu. There are roughly nine months to survey, map and model the asteroid to help make this decision.
Having found a color photo of the comet, I finally added Churyumov-Gerasimenko to my scale comparison of comets and asteroids visited by spacecraft.
Dawn has successfully entered orbit at Ceres, becoming the first mission to orbit a dwarf planet and the first to orbit two different bodies beyond Earth. I also have updates on Curiosity, Rosetta, Mars Express, Hayabusa 2, the Chang'e program, InSIGHT, and OSIRIS-REx.
NASA held a press briefing on the Dawn mission yesterday, sharing some new images and early interpretations of them. I see lots of things that intrigue me, and I'm looking forward to Dawn investigating them in more detail. I invite you to check out these photos yourself, and offer you some guidance on things to look for.
I've been resisting all urges to speculate on what kinds of geological features are present on Ceres, until now. Finally, Dawn has gotten close enough that the pictures it has returned show geology: bright spots, flat-floored craters, and enigmatic grooves.
To understand the possible distribution of life in the Universe it is important to study planet formation and evolution. These processes are recorded in the chemistry and mineralogy of asteroids and comets, and in the geology of ancient planetary surfaces in our Solar System.
Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/01/30 07:03 CST
Camera purchased with the support of a 2009 Shoemaker NEO Grant is now on a new telescope providing follow-up measurements for even fainter near-Earth objects.
Last week's Dawn images of Ceres were just slightly less detailed than Hubble's best. This week's are just slightly better.
Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/01/16 01:15 CST
Quan-Zhi Ye was an 18 year-old college student and the principal investigator of the Lulin Sky Survey when he won a 2007 Shoemaker NEO grant. He's now a Ph.D. candidate and provides an update on his work in meteor studies.
This year we achieve the first exploration of these curious but fascinating objects. Paul Schenk explains what we may learn about them.
Posted by Bruce Betts on 2015/01/06 05:15 CST
Telescope purchased in 2007 with the support of a Shoemaker grant is still in service and has worked on over 100 near-Earth asteroids over its 8 years of operation.
Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/12/29 04:40 CST
A new camera is improving the efficiency of the Near-Earth Asteroid Program at the Center for Solar System Studies. This update from Shoemaker NEO Grant winner Bob Stephens reveals amazing recent progress using his 2013 Planetary Society grant.