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Pretty pictures: Vesta's dark material

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

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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Dawn Journal: From HAMO to LAMO and Beyond

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/09/02 06:40 CDT | 10 comments

Marc Rayman updates us on the Dawn mission, its plans from high to low altitude mapping orbits at Ceres, and what the intrepid spacecraft will pursue next.

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Dawn Journal: Not-So-Quiet Cruise

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/08/01 05:35 CDT | 13 comments

Dawn's Mission Director updates us on the status of the mission, and tells us what Dawn and Star Wars have in common.

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Dark mountain on Vesta: Aricia Tholus

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

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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Dawn Journal: HAMO at Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/07/01 11:34 CDT | 9 comments

Dawn's chief engineer and mission director Marc Rayman gives an overview of the plan for the penultimate orbital phase at Ceres, the “high altitude mapping orbit” (HAMO).

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Dawn Journal: Survey Orbit at Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/06/03 09:59 CDT | 2 comments

This month Dawn's mission director Marc Rayman continues the preview of how Dawn will explore Ceres, this time in its survey orbit.

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The value of a Guest Investigator program for Dawn

Posted by Anne Verbiscer on 2014/05/23 09:20 CDT | 1 comment

NASA selected 21 Participating Scientists to join the Dawn team in 2010, prior to Dawn's arrival at Vesta in 2011. Since that time, Dawn Participating Scientists have made enormous contributions to the mission, as they do for most other NASA missions. But the status of a Participating Scientist program for Dawn at Ceres has been in doubt.

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Dawn Journal: Explaining Orbit Insertion

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/05/06 08:21 CDT | 4 comments

Less than a year from its rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is continuing to make excellent progress on its ambitious interplanetary adventure. But once it gets to Ceres, just how will it go into orbit? Marc Rayman explains.

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Dawn Journal: Orbital Trajectories

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/04/01 09:48 CDT | 3 comments

Marc Rayman updates us on Dawn's status and explains how the spacecraft is actually getting closer to Earth at the moment as it moves deeper into the asteroid belt.

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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 7: Near Earth Asteroids and the Jupiter System

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/03/21 02:10 CDT

Examine the threat of near Earth asteroids and begin exploring the Jupiter System in this video of class 7 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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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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Dawn Journal: Maneuvering Around Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/03/03 06:00 CST | 2 comments

Continuing its daring mission to explore some of the last uncharted worlds in the inner solar system, Dawn remains on course and on schedule for its rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres next year.

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A Spin Through the Inner Solar System

Posted by Bill Dunford on 2014/02/24 09:57 CST | 1 comment

Animated maps of the planets show the spheres in motion.

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Dawn Journal: Onward to Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/02/01 10:58 CST | 4 comments

The majority of Dawn's time in the Ceres approach phase will be devoted to continuing ion-powered flight. Let’s take another look at how this remarkable technology is used to deliver the adventurer to the desired orbit around Ceres.

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Dawn Journal: Planning for the Ceres Approach Phase

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/01/01 10:43 CST | 4 comments

Now more than halfway through its journey from protoplanet Vesta to dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is continuing to use its advanced ion propulsion system to reshape its orbit around the sun. Now that the ship is closer to the uncharted shores ahead than the lands it unveiled astern, we will begin looking at the plans for exploring another alien world.

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What's up in planetary missions in 2014

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/12/31 01:15 CST | 4 comments

With the New Year upon us, what can we look forward to in 2014? For me, the main event of 2014 is that ESA's Rosetta mission finally -- finally! -- catches up to the comet it has been chasing for a decade. We will lose LADEE, gain two Mars orbiters, and launch Hayabusa 2. The year begins with an amazing 24 spacecraft exploring or cruising toward various planetary destinations.

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Dawn Journal: Equidistant from Vesta and Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/12/06 08:31 CST | 1 comment

Gliding smoothly through the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn continues to make good progress on its ambitious mission of exploration. It is patiently but persistently pursuing Ceres, the second destination on its interplanetary itinerary.

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Dawn Journal: Thrusting Toward Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2013/11/03 05:45 CST | 1 comment

Deep in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn is continuing its smooth, silent flight toward dwarf planet Ceres. Far behind it now is the giant protoplanet Vesta, which the spacecraft transformed from a tiny splotch in the night sky to an exotic and richly detailed world.

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