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Dawn Journal: Dawn has arrived!

Marc Rayman • July 26, 2011

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.

Vesta does a Hyperion impression

Emily Lakdawalla • July 21, 2011

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.

Vesta in infrared color!

Emily Lakdawalla • July 19, 2011

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.

Yet another new image of Vesta

Emily Lakdawalla • July 18, 2011

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • July 18, 2011

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.

Ever closer to Vesta

Emily Lakdawalla • July 04, 2011

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.

Dawn Journal: Closing in on Vesta

Marc Rayman • June 27, 2011

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.

Amateur takes on the Dawn Vesta images

Emily Lakdawalla • June 24, 2011

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.

Vesta looks pretty battered

Emily Lakdawalla • June 23, 2011

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.

Vesta, now better than Hubble!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 17, 2011

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.

A Vesta rotation movie from Dawn!!

Emily Lakdawalla • June 13, 2011

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!

A plea for more pictures from Dawn

Emily Lakdawalla • June 03, 2011

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.

Dawn Journal: Vesta to choose Dawn's arrival time

Marc Rayman • May 30, 2011

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.

Land ho!

Emily Lakdawalla • May 11, 2011

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

Dawn's Vesta phase timeline, a summary

Emily Lakdawalla • May 03, 2011

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.

Dawn Journal: On the threshold of a new world

Marc Rayman • May 03, 2011

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.

The scale of our solar system

Emily Lakdawalla • May 02, 2011

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.

Dawn Journal: Calibrating instruments and thrusters on Vesta approach

Marc Rayman • April 07, 2011

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.

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

Emily Lakdawalla • April 07, 2011

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.

What's up in the solar system in April 2011

Emily Lakdawalla • March 31, 2011

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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