Author Topic: NASA's Dawn mission to the asteroids  (Read 7435 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
Re: An update on Dawn's mission to Ceres
« Reply #15 on: Sep 29, 2014, 08:56:32 »
An update on Dawn's mission to Ceres

On the seventh anniversary of embarking upon its extraordinary extraterrestrial expedition, the Dawn spacecraft is far from the planet where its journey began. While Earth has completed its repetitive loops around the sun seven times, its ambassador to the cosmos has had a much more varied itinerary. On most of its anniversaries, including this one, it reshapes its orbit around the sun, aiming for some of the last uncharted worlds in the inner solar system. (It also zipped past the oft-visited Mars, robbing the red planet of some of its orbital energy to help fling the spacecraft on to the more distant main asteroid belt.) It spent its fourth anniversary exploring the giant protoplanet Vesta, the second most massive object in the asteroid belt, revealing a fascinating, complex, alien place more akin to Earth and the other terrestrial planets than to typical asteroids. This anniversary is the last it will spend sailing on the celestial seas. By its eighth, it will be at its new, permanent home, dwarf planet Ceres.

More: http://dawnblog.jpl.nasa.gov/2014/09/27/dawn-journal-september-27/

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
Re: NASA's Dawn mission to the asteroids
« Reply #16 on: Nov 15, 2014, 09:54:29 »
Dawn Journal | October 31

Farther from Earth and from the sun than it has ever been, Dawn is on course and on schedule for its March 2015 arrival at Ceres, an enigmatic world of rock and ice. To slip gracefully into orbit around the dwarf planet, the spacecraft has been using its uniquely capable ion propulsion system to reshape its heliocentric orbit so that it matches Ceres’ orbit. Since departing the giant protoplanet Vesta in Sep. 2012, the stalwart ship has accomplished 99.46 percent of the planned ion thrusting.

What matters most for this daring mission is its ambitious exploration of two uncharted worlds (previews  of the Ceres plan were presented from December 2013 to August 2014), but this month and next, we will consider that 0.54 percent of the thrusting Dawn did not accomplish.

More: http://dawnblog.jpl.nasa.gov/2014/10/31/dawn-journal-october-31/

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
Geologic Maps of Vesta from NASA's Dawn Mission Published
« Reply #17 on: Nov 18, 2014, 23:19:42 »
Geologic Maps of Vesta from NASA's Dawn Mission Published

mages from NASA's Dawn Mission have been used to create a series of high-resolution geological maps of the large asteroid Vesta, revealing the variety of surface features in unprecedented detail. These maps are included with a series of 11 scientific papers published this week in a special issue of the journal Icarus.

Geological mapping is a technique used to derive the geologic history of a planetary object from detailed analysis of surface morphology, topography, color and brightness information. A team of 14 scientists mapped the surface of Vesta using Dawn spacecraft data, led by three NASA-funded participating scientists: David A. Williams of Arizona State University, Tempe; R. Aileen Yingst of the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona; and W. Brent Garry of the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.

"The geologic mapping campaign at Vesta took about two-and-a-half years to complete, and the resulting maps enabled us to recognize a geologic timescale of Vesta for comparison to other planets," said Williams.

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4381

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
Dawn Snaps Its Best-Yet Image of Dwarf Planet Ceres
« Reply #18 on: Dec 06, 2014, 09:10:29 »
Dawn Snaps Its Best-Yet Image of Dwarf Planet Ceres

The Dawn spacecraft has delivered a glimpse of Ceres, the largest body in the main asteroid belt, in a new image taken 740,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from the dwarf planet. This is Dawn's best image yet of Ceres as the spacecraft makes its way toward this unexplored world.

"Now, finally, we have a spacecraft on the verge of unveiling this mysterious, alien world. Soon it will reveal myriad secrets Ceres has held since the dawn of the solar system," said Marc Rayman, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, chief engineer and mission director of the Dawn mission.

Dawn will be captured into Ceres' orbit in March, marking the first visit to a dwarf planet by a spacecraft. To date, the best images of Ceres come from the Hubble Space Telescope. In early 2015, however, Dawn will begin delivering images at much higher resolution.

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4395

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
Dawn Delivers New Image of Ceres
« Reply #19 on: Jan 20, 2015, 00:06:46 »
Dawn Delivers New Image of Ceres

As NASA's Dawn spacecraft closes in on Ceres, new images show the dwarf planet at 27 pixels across, about three times better than the calibration images taken in early December. These are the first in a series of images that will be taken for navigation purposes during the approach to Ceres.

Over the next several weeks, Dawn will deliver increasingly better and better images of the dwarf planet, leading up to the spacecraft's capture into orbit around Ceres on March 6. The images will continue to improve as the spacecraft spirals closer to the surface during its 16-month study of the dwarf planet.

"We know so much about the solar system and yet so little about dwarf planet Ceres. Now, Dawn is ready to change that," said Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer and mission director, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The best images of Ceres so far were taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 2003 and 2004. This most recent images from Dawn, taken January 13, 2015, at about 80 percent of Hubble resolution, are not quite as sharp. But Dawn's images will surpass Hubble's resolution at the next imaging opportunity, which will be at the end of January.

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2015-023

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
Re: Dawn Delivers New Image of Ceres
« Reply #20 on: Jan 20, 2015, 08:45:54 »

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
Re: Dawn Delivers New Image of Ceres
« Reply #21 on: Jan 21, 2015, 18:37:49 »

Kenny

  • O. A. S.
  • Cluster Class
  • *
  • Posts: 826
Bright Spot on Dwarf Planet Ceres: What Is It?
« Reply #22 on: Jan 24, 2015, 00:19:52 »
A strange, flickering white blotch found on the dwarf planet Ceres by a NASA spacecraft has scientists scratching their heads.

The white spot on Ceres in a series of new photos taken on Jan. 13 by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which is rapidly approaching the round dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. But when the initial photo release on Monday (Jan. 19), the Dawn scientists gave no indication of what the white dot might be.

http://m.space.com/28336-mysterious-white-spot-on-ceres.html

Mike

  • Observing Consultant
  • O. A. S.
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 8488
    • Electronicle
Re: NASA's Dawn mission to the asteroids
« Reply #23 on: Jan 24, 2015, 09:33:04 »
My guess is a crater filled with ice.
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. Carl Sagan

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
Gullies on Vesta Suggest Past Water-Mobilized Flows
« Reply #24 on: Jan 25, 2015, 10:29:14 »
Gullies on Vesta Suggest Past Water-Mobilized Flows

Protoplanet Vesta, visited by NASA's Dawn spacecraft from 2011 to 2013, was once thought to be completely dry, incapable of retaining water because of the low temperatures and pressures at its surface. However, a new study shows evidence that Vesta may have had short-lived flows of water-mobilized material on its surface, based on data from Dawn.

"Nobody expected to find evidence of water on Vesta. The surface is very cold and there is no atmosphere, so any water on the surface evaporates," said Jennifer Scully, postgraduate researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles. "However, Vesta is proving to be a very interesting and complex planetary body."

The study has broad implications for planetary science.

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4453

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
Re: NASA's Dawn mission to the asteroids
« Reply #25 on: Feb 03, 2015, 08:36:46 »
Dawn Journal | January 29

Dawn’s unique method of patiently, gradually reshaping its orbit around the sun with its ion propulsion system is nearly at its end. Just as two cars may drive together at high speed and thus travel at low speed relative to each other, Dawn is now close to matching Ceres’ heliocentric orbital motion. Together, they are traveling around the sun at nearly 39,000 mph (almost 64,000 kilometers per hour), or 10.8 miles per second (17.4 kilometers per second). But the spaceship is closing in on the world ahead at the quite modest relative speed of about 250 mph (400 kilometers per hour), much less than is typical for interplanetary spaceflight.

Dawn has begun its approach imaging campaign, and the pictures are wonderfully exciting. This month, we will take a more careful look at the plans for photographing Ceres....

...

Dawn turned to observe Vesta during that approach phase more often than it does on approach to Ceres, and the reason is simple. It has lost two of its four reaction wheels, devices used to help turn or stabilize the craft in the zero-gravity, frictionless conditions of spaceflight. (In full disclosure, the units aren’t actually lost. We know precisely where they are. But given that they stopped functioning, they might as well be elsewhere in the universe; they don’t do Dawn any good.)

...

Dawn is 121,000 miles (195,000 kilometers) from Ceres, or half the average distance between Earth and the moon. It is also 3.63 AU (338 million miles, or 544 million kilometers) from Earth, or 1,390 times as far as the moon and 3.69 times as far as the sun today. Radio signals, traveling at the universal limit of the speed of light, take one hour to make the round trip.

Read the whole Dawn Journal for January 29th.

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
Dawn Gets Closer Views of Ceres
« Reply #26 on: Feb 06, 2015, 08:50:38 »
Dawn Gets Closer Views of Ceres

NASA's Dawn spacecraft, on approach to dwarf planet Ceres, has acquired its latest and closest-yet snapshot of this mysterious world. The image of Ceres, taken on Feb. 4, 2015, from a distance of about 90,000 miles (145,000 kilometers), is available at:

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=pia19174
http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=pia19179

At a resolution of 8.5 miles (14 kilometers) per pixel, the pictures represent the sharpest images to date of Ceres.

From: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4475

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
Dawn Captures Sharper Images of Ceres
« Reply #27 on: Feb 17, 2015, 23:02:52 »
Dawn Captures Sharper Images of Ceres

Craters and mysterious bright spots are beginning to pop out in the latest images of Ceres from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. These images, taken Feb. 12 at a distance of 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet, pose intriguing questions for the science team to explore as the spacecraft nears its destination.

The image is available at:

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA19056

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4485

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
'Bright Spot' on Ceres Has Dimmer Companion
« Reply #28 on: Feb 26, 2015, 10:55:29 »
'Bright Spot' on Ceres Has Dimmer Companion

Dwarf planet Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA's Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the object. The latest images from Dawn, taken nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) from Ceres, reveal that a bright spot that stands out in previous images lies close to yet another bright area.

"Ceres' bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin. This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations," said Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Using its ion propulsion system, Dawn will enter orbit around Ceres on March 6. As scientists receive better and better views of the dwarf planet over the next 16 months, they hope to gain a deeper understanding of its origin and evolution by studying its surface. The intriguing bright spots and other interesting features of this captivating world will come into sharper focus.

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4491

The Dawn spacecraft is performing flawlessly as it conducts the first exploration of the first dwarf planet. Each new picture of Ceres reveals exciting and surprising new details about a fascinating and enigmatic orb that has been glimpsed only as a smudge of light for more than two centuries. And yet as that fuzzy little blob comes into sharper focus, it seems to grow only more perplexing.

Dawn is showing us exotic scenery on a world that dates back to the dawn of the solar system, more than 4.5 billion years ago. Craters large and small remind us that Ceres lives in the rough and tumble environment of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and collectively they will help scientists develop a deeper understanding of the history and nature not only of Ceres itself but also of the solar system.

More: http://dawnblog.jpl.nasa.gov/2015/02/25/dawn-journal-february-25/

Rick

  • Administrator
  • Galaxy Cluster
  • *
  • Posts: 6318
    • http://www.orpington-astronomy.org.uk
NASA Spacecraft Nears Historic Dwarf Planet Arrival
« Reply #29 on: Mar 03, 2015, 11:26:25 »
NASA Spacecraft Nears Historic Dwarf Planet Arrival

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned new images captured on approach to its historic orbit insertion at the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn will be the first mission to successfully visit a dwarf planet when it enters orbit around Ceres on Friday, March 6.

"Dawn is about to make history," said Robert Mase, project manager for the Dawn mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Our team is ready and eager to find out what Ceres has in store for us."

Recent images show numerous craters and unusual bright spots that scientists believe tell how Ceres, the first object discovered in our solar system's asteroid belt, formed and whether its surface is changing. As the spacecraft spirals into closer and closer orbits around the dwarf planet, researchers will be looking for signs that these strange features are changing, which would suggest current geological activity.

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4496