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Blog Archive

 

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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Dawn Journal: Back to interplanetary space

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/09/06 12:49 CDT

After more than a year in orbit, Dawn has left Vesta, beginning the spacecraft's journey to Ceres.

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What's Up in the Solar System in September 2012

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/31 04:17 CDT | 4 comments

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.

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Pretty picture: Vesta's crater Aelia in high resolution

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/08/13 02:59 CDT | 3 comments

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.

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Dawn Journal: The long, slow goodbye

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/07/26 12:40 CDT | 1 comment

Dawn has completed the final intensive phase of its exploration of Vesta, and it has now begun its gradual departure for Ceres.

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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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What's Up in the Solar System in July 2012

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.

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Dawn Journal: Riding gravitational currents to HAMO2

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.

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Dawn Journal: Rising from a happily long LAMO

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/05/03 03:39 CDT | 3 comments

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.

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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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Dawn Journal: Saluting the Sun

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. Well beyond Mars, fewer than a dozen spacecraft have ever operated so far from Earth.

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Dawn Journal: Bonus time at low altitude

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/02/29 02:43 CST

Dawn is continuing its exploits at Vesta, performing detailed studies of the colossal asteroid from its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO).

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More Dawn Vesta approach images: First color views

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.

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Dawn images of Vesta! Released!! For everyone!!!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/14 10:57 CST

Some time in the last few days, the Dawn team made public the first preliminary version of the first release of their data from the Vesta phase of their mission.

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Dawn Journal: How does Dawn know where "down" is?

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2012/01/30 01:23 CST

Since the last log, the robotic explorer Dawn has devoted most of its time to its two primary scientific objectives in this phase of the mission.

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Watch this week's Google+ Space Hangout

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/01/19 03:12 CST

This week's lineup is a largely astronomical crowd so most of the conversation concerned dark matter and boiling exoplanets and imaging the black hole at the center of our galaxy.

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The Dawn spacecraft, modeled in an unlikely medium

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/01/17 02:04 CST | 3 comments

Last week when I joined the new weekly Space Hangout (a webcast video conference call of sorts), I realized I would need a 3D model of Dawn in order to explain what's going on with the mission right now.

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Dawn Journal: The Om of Orbit Adjustment

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.

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Notes on Dawn at Vesta from the 2011 American Geophysical Union meeting

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.

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Dawn Journal: Riding gravitational currents to LAMO

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.

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