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.
It's an active time in interplanetary exploration! Curiosity has begun roving Mars, and Opportunity's not wasting any time either. Dawn has just departed Vesta and begun the more than two-year cruise to Ceres. Juno is in the middle of a big deep-space maneuver, setting up next year's Earth flyby.
I think my favorite features on Vesta are its streaky craters. Today's image release shows one of the streakiest: Aelia, a little crater on the flank of a larger one, near Vesta's equator.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/07/02 11:50 CDT
Welcome to my monthly roundup of the activities of our intrepid robotic emissaries across the solar system! Curiosity is about to land; Opportunity has rolled through sol 3000; Odyssey is back online, having switched to a spare reaction wheel; Dawn is now in High-Altitude Mapping Orbit 2; and Cassini is taking advantage of its newly inclined orbit to get spectacular series of images of Saturn's rings.
Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/06/05 03:30 CDT
Dawn is beginning its departure from Vesta, spiraling upward from its low-altitude mapping orbit to a higher one from which it will map north polar terrain not visible during the earlier mapping orbit.
Marc Rayman's monthly check-in with the Dawn mission describes the achievements of the spacecraft in its Low-Altitude Mapping Orbit (including near-global high-resolution imaging!) and explains what's next.
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.
Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/03/29 05:19 CDT
On April 18, Dawn will attain its greatest separation yet from Earth, nearly 520 million kilometers (323 million miles) or more than 3.47 astronomical units (AU). Well beyond Mars, fewer than a dozen spacecraft have ever operated so far from Earth. At this extraordinary range, Dawn will be nearly 1,400 times farther than the average distance to the Moon (and 1,300 times farther than the greatest distance attained by Apollo astronauts 42 years ago). The deep-space ship will be well over one million times farther from Earth than the International Space Station and Tiangong-1.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/17 11:37 CST
�On June 30, Dawn stopped thrusting for a full Vestian day -- five hours and 20 minutes -- and just watched the asteroid rotate. But unlike the previous observations, they used all of Dawn's�color filters�to acquire the best-ever color photos of the lumpy world.
The Dawn spacecraft, modeled in an unlikely medium
Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/01/09 03:53 CST
The Dawn mission's Project System Engineer Marc Rayman reports that Dawn concluded 2011 more than 40 thousand times nearer to Vesta than it began the year. It is now at its lowest altitude of the mission, conducting a detailed exploration of the protoplanet and continuing to make new discoveries.
Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/12/08 03:19 CST
A report on the press briefing and talks from the Fall 2011 American Geophyisical Union meeting about the data on Vesta collected so far by Dawn.
Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/12/01 04:05 CST
In this update on the Dawn mission, project system engineer Marc Rayman reports that the probe is headed for its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO), where it will focus on making a census of the atomic constituents and on mapping the gravity field in order to determine Vesta's interior structure.