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Chang'E 2 imaging of Toutatis succeeded beyond my expectations!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/14 05:59 CST | 19 comments

The Chang'E 2 mission flyby of Toutatis succeeded in acquiring images. Oh my goodness, did they succeed. These, in combination with the incredible radar images still being acquired from Goldstone and innumerable optical observations, make Toutatis one of the best-studied asteroids in the solar system.

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Asteroid 4179 Toutatis' upcoming encounters with Earth and Chang'E 2

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/12/06 12:19 CST | 6 comments

Near-Earth asteroid 4179 Toutatis will be passing within 7 million kilometers of Earth on December 12. Both radio telescopes and the Chang'E 2 spacecraft will be acquiring images.

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Dawn Journal: Hydrazine Haste Makes Waste

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/12/05 11:02 CST | 1 comment

By saving fuel, Dawn will arrive at Ceres in 2015 with about half of the 45.6-kilogram (101-pound) hydrazine supply it had when it rocketed away from Cape Canaveral.

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Images from the long-awaited Dawn Vesta data set

Posted by Daniel Macháček on 2012/11/29 11:55 CST | 4 comments

A few days ago, the Dawn mission finally published their archival data. During the year of delay I often looked with anticipation to the Planetary Data System to check whether or not images were there, and I am delighted that they are finally available. Was the wait worth it? Definitely!

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Planetary Radio: A Dawn MIssion Update
And a Video Tour of Marc Rayman's Space Collection

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2012/11/20 12:36 CST

A Planetary Radio status report from the Dawn mission's Marc Rayman, accompanied by a fascinating video tour of Marc's at-home collection of space information and memorabilia.

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Dawn Vesta Data is publicly available (for real this time!)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/11/16 07:08 CST | 2 comments

After a false start earlier this year, the first chunk of Dawn Framing Camera data from Vesta has finally made it to the Planetary Data System. As a first step to understanding the data set, I've built some index pages to these cool images.

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DPS 2012: Future impact risks

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/10/24 01:14 CDT | 7 comments

Continuing my writeup of notes from last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting: presentations on the risks of future asteroid impacts. How much risk do we face, and what are the appropriate actions to take in the face of that risk?

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DPS 2012, Day 5: How to make asteroids crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/10/19 07:53 CDT | 2 comments

A summary of just one talk from the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting, by Lindy Elkins-Tanton, which provided a neat explanation for how asteroids can be melted and layered on the inside yet have a primitive-looking exterior.

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Deep Impact targets possible 2020 asteroid flyby

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/10/05 12:28 CDT | 3 comments

Yesterday, Deep Impact performed a trajectory correction maneuver, firing its thrusters to line up for a flyby seven years from now. Here's a preview of that encounter.

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Shoemaker NEO Winner Finds Close Fly By Asteroid

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/10/02 05:54 CDT

Gary Hug used his Shoemaker NEO grant provided camera to find 2012 SY49 which flew by Earth at about two lunar distances last week. The tens of meters wide asteroid is a low-probability possible Earth impactor in the future.

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Spring arrives to Vesta's north pole, as Dawn departs, plus a request for citizen scientists

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/09/11 11:08 CDT | 3 comments

Dawn's last images of Vesta peek into previously shadowy north polar territory. As the spacecraft leaves Vesta behind, its science team requests help from the public.

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Name That Asteroid!

Posted by Bill Nye on 2012/09/04 11:39 CDT | 3 comments

OSIRIS-REx is will return a piece of the ancient asteroid 1999 RQ36, and it's up to you to come up with a name.

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Chang'e 2: The Full Story

Posted by Bill Gray on 2012/08/25 10:55 CDT | 4 comments

An update on China's second lunar orbiter, Chang'e 2, which is now heading for asteroid Toutatis.

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Dawn Journal: Seeing Vesta in a New Light

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/07/06 02:33 CDT | 1 comment

Once again Dawn is diligently mapping Vesta, circling the ancient protoplanet about twice a day, observing the signatures of Vesta's tortured history.

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Hunting Asteroids from a Field in Kansas

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/06/15 06:33 CDT

TPS Shoemaker NEO Grant Winner Gary Hug hunts near Earth objects from his back yard in Kansas. NPR's Morning Edition picked up on this fascinating story.

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Update on yesterday's post about Chang'E 2 going to Toutatis

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/15 11:29 CDT | 3 comments

I have a couple of updates on my post from yesterday: confirmation that Chang'E 2 is indeed gone from L2, and more specifics on encounter dates with Toutatis.

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Chang'E 2 has departed Earth's neighborhood for.....asteroid Toutatis!?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/14 07:53 CDT | 1 comment

According to a Chinese spaceflight forum, Chang'E program chief scientist Ouyang Ziyuan recently announced that Chang'E 2 has departed the Sun-Earth L2 point and is now en route to asteroid 4179 Toutatis!

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Steins, a jewel in the asteroid belt

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/13 09:00 CDT | 1 comment

A notice of some new names for features on asteroid 2867 Steins inspired me to dig up the data set from the September 5, 2008 Rosetta flyby and explore it to see what it contained.

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Cheat sheets for Vesta's craters and Dawn's Vesta timeline

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/19 01:38 CDT

I made myself a cheat sheet to many of Vesta's distinctive-looking craters, and also wrote down a list of the major dates in the timeline of Dawn's exploration of Vesta.

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Pretty Pictures: Amazing Asteroid Lutetia

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/10 02:00 CDT

A long-awaited data set is finally public (well, long-awaited by me, at least). The Rosetta team has now published their data from the July 10, 2010 flyby of asteroid (21) Lutetia. This data set is absolutely stunning, and my friends in the amateur image processing community wasted no time in creating art out of it.

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