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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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A different face of Vesta (oh, *there's* the craters!)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/29 12:30 CDT

Here's the latest image release from Dawn at Vesta, taken from an altitude about twice as high as that of their first mapping orbit.

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Dawn Journal: Dawn has arrived!

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/07/26 11:55 CDT

After covering 2.8 billion kilometers (1.7 billion miles) on its own, after traveling for nearly four years through the lonely emptiness of interplanetary space, after being bound by the gravity only of the sun, Dawn is finally in orbit around Vesta.

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Vesta does a Hyperion impression

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/21 06:25 CDT

Maybe it's my own peculiar variant of pareidolia, but every time I see a new image of Vesta I'm reminded of some different other lumpy body in the solar system. In the image released just now by the Dawn team, taken from 10,500 kilometers away, I'm seeing Hyperion.

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Vesta in infrared color!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/19 11:27 CDT

Yet another sharp-eyed reader (I love my readers!) pointed out to me that the German-language release on the MPS website about the latest Vesta image from Dawn included what looked like a tiny thumbnail of a color view.

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Yet another new image of Vesta

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/18 07:21 CDT

A sharp-eyed reader noticed that a size comparison montage posted by the Dawn mission today included an image of Vesta that had not yet been released separately to the public, and it is a very cool one.

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Congratulations to the Dawn team on their orbit entry & pretty pictures!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/18 05:08 CDT

There's a new orbital mission on the map! As of Friday, the relatively small mass of the asteroid Vesta has finally taken hold of its new artificial satellite, Dawn.

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Ever closer to Vesta

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/07/04 09:30 CDT

Here's a photo of Vesta that was released by the Dawn team on Friday. I didn't post it right away because the version of the image in the official release has some bizarre processing artifacts that make it look as though the image had been made by cutting construction paper.

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Dawn Journal: Closing in on Vesta

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/06/27 11:19 CDT

Vesta beckons, and Dawn responds. Now more than halfway through its approach to Vesta, Dawn continues creeping up on the destination it has been pursuing since it began its interplanetary travels.

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Amateur takes on the Dawn Vesta images

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/24 10:12 CDT

I am pretty sure that the Dawn team put nearly every image they've taken of Vesta so far in the animation they released yesterday, which is awesome. It hasn't taken long for the amateur image processing community to pick that animation apart into its component frames and process the heck out of the individual images to produce some very fine looking images and animations.

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Vesta looks pretty battered

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/23 01:53 CDT

There was a press briefing on Dawn today at NASA Headquarters, and there are new pictures! Here's what Vesta looked like as of three days ago, when Dawn was only 189,000 kilometers away.

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