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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.