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Blog Archive


Seeing Ceres: Then and Now

Posted by Paul Gilster on 2015/03/06 09:33 CST | 1 comments

Technology writer Paul Gilster shares his interest in how we depict astronomical objects, focusing on the dwarf planet Ceres.

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Watch Ceres rotate: A guide to interpreting Dawn's images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/03 02:55 CST | 14 comments

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.

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At last, Ceres is a geological world

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/25 09:42 CST | 25 comments

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.

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Dawn Journal: Ceres' Deepening Mysteries

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/02/25 02:00 CST | 15 comments

Even as we discover more about Ceres, some mysteries only deepen. Mission Director Marc Rayman gives an update on Dawn as it moves ever closer to its next target.

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Planet Formation and the Origin of Life

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2015/02/09 10:47 CST | 4 comments

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.

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Ceres Coming Into View

Posted by Paul Schenk on 2015/02/03 05:23 CST | 1 comments

Dawn is on approach to Ceres, the largest of the asteroids, and is starting to resolve features.

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Camera now measuring even fainter Near-Earth Objects

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.

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Dawn Journal: Closing in on Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/01/30 08:31 CST | 7 comments

Dawn's chief engineer Marc Rayman gives an update on the mission as it gets ever closer to its next target: The dwarf planet Ceres.

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Ceres: Just a little bit closer (and officially better than Hubble)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/01/27 06:26 CST | 5 comments

Last week's Dawn images of Ceres were just slightly less detailed than Hubble's best. This week's are just slightly better.

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Sky survey grant helps lead to a space science career

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.

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Year of the 'Dwarves': Ceres and Pluto Get Their Due

Posted by Paul Schenk on 2015/01/15 12:18 CST | 1 comments

This year we achieve the first exploration of these curious but fascinating objects. Paul Schenk explains what we may learn about them.

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2007 Shoemaker Grant Still Yielding Asteroid Science

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.

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New camera improves a California near-Earth asteroid program

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.

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Dawn Journal: History of Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/12/29 01:25 CST | 14 comments

As Dawn looks toward the new world of Ceres, Mission Director Marc Rayman looks back on Ceres' discovery.

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The YORP Effect and Bennu

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/12/11 05:48 CST

The YORP effect is a phenomenon that affects the rotation rate and pole orientation of an asteroid. YORP is an acronym that combines four scientist’s names: Yarkovsky, O’Keefe, Radzievskii, and Paddack.

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Ceres is round!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/12/05 02:44 CST | 3 comments

Okay, so the fact that Ceres is round is not news. It's still thrilling to see Ceres begin to come into focus as a round world.

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The Science of “Bennu’s Journey”

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/11/25 06:17 CST

The OSIRIS-REx project released Bennu’s Journey, a movie describing one possible history of our target asteroid – Bennu. The animation is among the most highly detailed productions created by Goddard’s Conceptual Image Laboratory.

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Hunting Binary Asteroids

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/11/07 05:31 CST

Thanks to The Planetary Society’s Shoemaker NEO Grant program, a new telescope has been brought to bear focusing on searching for and understanding the properties of binary asteroid systems.

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Dawn Journal: Ion thrusting (or not)

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/11/02 02:30 CST | 8 comments

Marc Rayman gives the latest update on the Dawn mission, focusing this time on the performance of its ion propulsion system.

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Collaboration Between OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa2

Posted by Dante Lauretta on 2014/10/20 10:35 CDT | 1 comments

The University of Arizona (UA) hosted representatives of the Hayabusa2 asteroid sample return mission to explore opportunities for collaboration with the OSIRIS-REx team.

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