Dawn Chief Engineer and Mission Director, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
It’s the biggest dwarf planet between here and Pluto, and it has a new permanent resident. The Dawn spacecraft is orbiting Ceres in the asteroid belt, revealing it as never before. What are those bright spots anyway? We spend time with Dawn’s Chief Engineer and Director, Marc Rayman. There’s even more from Pluto this week as New Horizons closes in. That’s according to Emily Lakdawalla, who also talks about the science at Ceres. Bill Nye marvels at the worldwide enthusiasm for LightSail, while Bruce Betts provides a different sort of Random Space Fact.
NASA / JPL / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA
Approaching Ceres: one bright spot turns into two
Dawn captured this image of Ceres during its Rotation Characterization 2, on February 19, 2015. This photo includes the enigmatic bright spot, which has now separated into two bright spots, both of them still smaller than the resolution of the camera (which is roughly 4 kilometers per pixel at a distance of 46,000 kilometers). This image has been enlarged by a factor of two from the original data.
This week's prizes are a stylish Planetary Radio t-shirt and special bonus LightSail swag!
This week's question:
Give us a great analogy for the 32-square meter LightSail sail. Prizes will be awarded for the most instructive comparison that provides a great feel for how big it is, and separately for the funniest analogy.