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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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Vesta, now better than Hubble!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/17 07:55 CDT

Closer and closer! Vesta is still fuzzy, but as Dawn inexorably draws closer it's beginning to come into focus. The view is now better than anything Hubble has ever returned to Earth.

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A Vesta rotation movie from Dawn!!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/13 04:33 CDT

What do you know! I spend my last pre-vacation post whining about the lack of image releases from Dawn as it approaches Vesta and what do I find in my Inbox on the morning of my return to work but: an image release from Dawn!

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A plea for more pictures from Dawn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/06/03 02:01 CDT

If you had asked me last year what I was most looking forward to in space in 2011, my answer would have been unhesitating: Dawn's approach to Vesta. Never in my adult life have I been able to follow a space mission as it discovered a large new world for the first time.

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Dawn Journal: Vesta to choose Dawn's arrival time

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/05/30 12:52 CDT

Dawn remains healthy and on course as it continues to approach Vesta. Thrusting with its ion propulsion system, as it has for most of its interplanetary journey so far, the spacecraft is gradually matching its solar orbit to that of the protoplanet just ahead.

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Land ho!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/11 12:23 CDT

It's hard to convey just how excited I am to see Dawn's first image of asteroid Vesta.

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Dawn's Vesta phase timeline, a summary

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/03 01:18 CDT

Now that Dawn has finally begun its science mission at Vesta, I thought it'd be useful to go back through Marc Rayman's Dawn Journals to collect a summary of the plans for Vesta.

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Dawn Journal: On the threshold of a new world

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/05/03 01:13 CDT

Dawn is on the threshold of a new world. After more than three and a half years of interplanetary travel covering in excess of 2.6 billion kilometers (1.6 billion miles), we are closing in on our first destination. Dawn is starting its approach to Vesta.

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The scale of our solar system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/05/02 11:26 CDT

Space.com has taken advantage of the infinitely scrollable nature of Web pages to produce a really cool infographic on the scales of orbital distances in the solar system.

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Dawn Journal: Calibrating instruments and thrusters on Vesta approach

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/04/07 03:14 CDT

Three and a half years after launch, Dawn continues its travels around the Sun, maneuvering to take the same orbital path as Vesta. The spacecraft has spent most of the past month gently thrusting with its ion propulsion system. Some of the thrusting this month, however, was not designed to propel Dawn to Vesta.

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365 Days of Astronomy Podcast: What's up in the second quarter of 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/07 11:16 CDT

Regular readers of this blog will find the content of today's 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast familiar, because it's an update on what the solar system exploration spacecraft are up to, based on my monthly "what's up" updates.

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What's up in the solar system in April 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/31 03:59 CDT

April 2011 will see MESSENGER begin the science phase of its orbital mission at Mercury, and should, I think, also see the start of Dawn's approach observations of Vesta. At Mars, Opportunity is back on the road again, rolling inexorably toward Endeavour. At Saturn, Cassini will continue its focus on Saturn and Titan science.

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Dawn's instruments are being roused for Vesta approach

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/21 05:00 CDT

Today the Dawn imaging team released a photo from the main camera, the Framing Camera, symbolizing that they're preparing to start Dawn approach science; the other two science instruments, a spectrometer and a neutron detector, are also being turned on and checked out.

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Dawn Journal: HAMO2; the destination glows bright

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/03/09 01:06 CST

Deep in the asteroid belt, Dawn continues thrusting with its ion propulsion system. The spacecraft is making excellent progress in reshaping its orbit around the sun to match that of its destination, the unexplored world Vesta, with arrival now less than five months away.

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What's up in the solar system in March 2011

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/28 02:43 CST

I don't think there's any question what the big event of this month will be: MESSENGER is finally, finally entering orbit at Mercury on March 18 at 00:45 UTC (March 17 at 16:45 for me).

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Dawn Journal: ORT ORT ORT

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/02/03 12:10 CST

Dawn continues its flight through the asteroid belt, steadily heading toward its July rendezvous with Vesta, where it will take up residence for a year. On January 10, Dawn performed some of the activities that it will execute in its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO) at Vesta.

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Dawn Journal: LAMO (Low Altitude Mapping Orbit)

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2011/01/05 03:35 CST

Dawn finishes 2010 much as it began the year, thrusting with its ion propulsion system in steady pursuit of a distant world.

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Dawn Journal: Attitude Adjustment

Posted by Marc Rayman on 2010/12/07 11:29 CST

Dawn is maintaining its smooth and steady course through the solar system as it gradually closes in on Vesta.

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