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Blog Archive


Ceres Gets Real; Pluto Lurks

Posted by Paul Schenk on 2015/03/27 04:10 CDT

Although we are still along way from understanding this fascinating little body, Ceres is finally becoming a real planet with recognizable features! And that's kinda cool.

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LPSC 2015: First results from Dawn at Ceres: provisional place names and possible plumes

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/19 06:29 CDT | 6 comments

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.

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Mini mission updates: Dawn in orbit; Curiosity short circuit; Rosetta image release; Hayabusa2 in cruise phase; and more

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/03/06 11:42 CST | 1 comments

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, Hayabusa2, the Chang'e program, InSIGHT, and OSIRIS-REx.

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Dawn Journal: Ceres Orbit Insertion!

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2015/03/06 10:32 CST | 8 comments

Dawn's Chief Engineer, Marc Rayman, gives an update on the mission's highly anticipated arrival at Ceres.

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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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Ceres coming into focus

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/02/06 06:36 CST | 8 comments

The Dawn mission released new images of Ceres yesterday, taken on February 4, when Dawn had approached to within 145,000 kilometers. More details are coming into view, and they're fascinating. For one thing, there's not just one white spot any more: there are several.

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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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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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New Dawn images of Ceres: comparable to Hubble

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/01/20 09:06 CST | 9 comments

Dawn has captured a series of photos of a rotating Ceres whose resolution is very close to Hubble's, and they show tantalizing surface details.

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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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Planetary exploration in 2015: The Year of the Dwarf Planet

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/12/31 10:49 CST | 8 comments

Looking ahead to what we can expect from Earth's exploration of the rest of the solar system in 2015, there's an obvious theme: Dwarf planets.

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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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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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Dawn Journal: Looking Ahead at Ceres

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2014/12/01 02:51 CST | 1 comments

This month, Marc Rayman looks ahead to some upcoming activities for Dawn as it approaches the dwarf planet Ceres.

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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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What did Dawn learn at Vesta?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/10/09 03:53 CDT | 12 comments

It's now been two years since Dawn wrapped up its work at the second-largest asteroid. What else did we get from the Vesta encounter besides great photos? Recently, I asked Dawn's deputy project scientist, Carol Raymond, for help in summarizing a few of the big things Dawn taught us.

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