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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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Dawn Journal: HAMO successfully completed, LAMO ahead

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/11/03 01:48 CDT

Dawn has completed another wonderfully successful phase of its exploration of Vesta, studying it in unprecedented detail during the past month.

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What do Dawn's color ratio images of Vesta mean?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/11/01 07:58 CDT

The Dawn mission to Vesta continues to release an image every day, and recently they have been releasing lots of color images. I like color pictures for aesthetic reasons, but color is actually a very important property of planetary surfaces.

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Science from Vesta at the Geological Society of America meeting

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/24 05:55 CDT

I'm nearly two weeks late getting to this news but better late than never, right? There was a press briefing from the Dawn mission at the Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting on October 12.

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Lovely pic of a recent crater on Vesta

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/11 08:28 CDT

With little fanfare, the Dawn mission continues releasing a new picture from Vesta every day. This one is definitely my favorite among their recent releases, a closeup on one of Vesta's strange streaky bright craters.

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Some first impressions of EPSC-DPS meeting

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/03 11:55 CDT

Today they turned on the scientific fire hose at the Division of Planetary Sciences / European Planetary Science Congress meeting happening here in Nantes, France. My brain already feels full and I still have four more days!

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Dawn Journal: Fourth year in space, and arrival in HAMO

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/09/29 08:12 CDT

Dawn's fourth anniversary of being in space is very different from its previous ones. Indeed, those days all were devoted to reaching the distant destination the ship is now exploring. Celebrating its anniversary of leaving Earth, Dawn is in orbit around a kindred terrestrial-type world, the ancient protoplanet Vesta.

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Video: Zooming around Vesta

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/16 08:44 CDT

The Dawn team released today a nice little video that flies around a shape model of Vesta produced by DLR, the German Aerospace Corporation, who built and operate Dawn's camera.

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Dawn's cryptic image release titles

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/09/14 04:44 CDT

Every day's image release from the Dawn spacecraft shows something on Vesta that is weird and cool and difficult to explain. The images come out with very little information describing what is going on to make those weird landscapes.

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Dawn Journal: Spiraling Down from Survey Orbit

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/09/02 11:39 CDT

Dawn has completed the first phase of its exploration of Vesta with tremendous success, and the peripatetic adventurer is now in powered flight again, on its way to a new location from which to scrutinize its subject.

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Dawn Journal: In Survey Orbit (belatedly)

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/08/29 09:11 CDT

Dawn is now beginning intensive observations of the alien world it orbits. The approach phase, which began on May 3 is complete. Today Dawn is in its survey orbit around Vesta.

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Vesta's wacky craters

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/16 09:26 CDT

Dawn's images of Vesta show craters upon craters, but the longer I study the images, the wackier the craters look.

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Vesta, a revelation

Posted by Pablo Gutierrez-Marques on 2011/08/09 12:19 CDT

I have to admit it: three months ago I did not understand why space science is important. This is a pretty bold statement coming from a practicing aerospace engineer, but recent events have corrected this lack of understanding, and I am not embarrassed to correct myself in this blog. But let us not get ahead of the story.

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What I see in the first high-res Dawn images of Vesta

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/02 11:22 CDT

I had to wait until the kids were in bed and the husband fed last night before I finally had time to sit down and really look at the Dawn images of Vesta. And I still hardly knew where to begin. This brand new world is just so different than others I've seen.

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On speculation in today's Dawn press briefing

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/02 07:10 CDT

When a spacecraft has visited a new body for the first time, the usual answer to any scientific question is "it's too early to know; we need to study the data more." Scientists are usually very careful to avoid speculation while they're on press panels. But today's press briefing wasn't like that at all.

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Fabulous Dawn Vesta images and rotation movie!!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/01 11:58 CDT

Now that Dawn's close enough to Vesta, we're seeing absolutely spectacular detail and tremendous diversity across Vesta's surface. As usual it'll probably take me a while to bring together all the new information, so as a stopgap I'm going to post an awesome image and a rotation movie.

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