Author Topic: NASA's Dawn mission to the asteroids  (Read 7431 times)

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Rick

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Dawn Journal - July 27, 2016
« Reply #60 on: Aug 22, 2016, 09:51:43 »
Dawn Journal - July 27, 2016

Humankind dispatched Dawn on an extraordinary extraterrestrial expedition in 2007. It visited Mars briefly in 2009 and spent 14 months orbiting protoplanet Vesta in 2011-2012, revealing fascinating details of that uncharted, alien world. After traveling for another two and a half years through the interplanetary void, the spacecraft arrived at Ceres in March 2015. It has now conducted an outstandingly successful exploration of the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system. Dawn greatly surpassed its objectives at both Vesta and Ceres, accomplishing well more than was envisioned when NASA decided to undertake this ambitious mission. Having realized its raison d'être, the official end of Dawn's prime mission was  June 30.

More: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/journal_07_27_16.html

Rick

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What's Inside Ceres? New Findings from Gravity Data
« Reply #61 on: Aug 22, 2016, 09:53:05 »
What's Inside Ceres? New Findings from Gravity Data

In the tens of thousands of photos returned by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, the interior of Ceres isn't visible. But scientists have powerful data to study Ceres' inner structure: Dawn's own motion.

Since gravity dominates Dawn's orbit at Ceres, scientists can measure variations in Ceres' gravity by tracking subtle changes in the motion of the spacecraft. Using data from Dawn, scientists have mapped the variations in Ceres' gravity for the first time in a new study in the journal Nature, which provides clues to the dwarf planet's internal structure.

"The new data suggest that Ceres has a weak interior, and that water and other light materials partially separated from rock during a heating phase early in its history," said Ryan Park, the study's lead author and the supervisor of the solar system dynamics group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6583

Rick

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New Ceres Views as Dawn Moves Higher
« Reply #62 on: Nov 21, 2016, 09:13:28 »
New Ceres Views as Dawn Moves Higher

The brightest area on Ceres stands out amid shadowy, cratered terrain in a dramatic new view from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, taken as it looked off to the side of the dwarf planet.

Occator Crater, with its central bright region and secondary, less-reflective areas, appears quite prominent near the limb, or edge, of Ceres. At 57 miles (92 kilometers) wide and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, Occator displays evidence of recent geologic activity. The latest research suggests that the bright material in this crater is comprised of salts left behind after a briny liquid emerged from below, froze and then sublimated, meaning it turned from ice into vapor.

Take a look: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6678

doug

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Re: NASA's Dawn mission to the asteroids
« Reply #63 on: Nov 21, 2016, 09:31:34 »
     An incredible image .... pity they can`t land there and get some samples.....
Always look on the bright side of life ...

Rick

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Where is the Ice on Ceres?
« Reply #64 on: Dec 20, 2016, 08:45:34 »
Where is the Ice on Ceres?

At first glance, Ceres, the largest body in the main asteroid belt, may not look icy. Images from NASA's Dawn spacecraft have revealed a dark, heavily cratered world whose brightest area is made of highly reflective salts -- not ice. But newly published studies from Dawn scientists show two distinct lines of evidence for ice at or near the surface of the dwarf planet. Researchers are presenting these findings at the 2016 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

"These studies support the idea that ice separated from rock early in Ceres' history, forming an ice-rich crustal layer, and that ice has remained near the surface over the history of the solar system," said Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator of the Dawn mission, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Water ice on other planetary bodies is important because it is an essential ingredient for life as we know it. "By finding bodies that were water-rich in the distant past, we can discover clues as to where life may have existed in the early solar system," Raymond said.

Ice is everywhere on Ceres

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6703

Rick

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Re: NASA's Dawn mission to the asteroids
« Reply #65 on: Feb 19, 2017, 22:06:27 »
A deep-space robotic emissary from Earth is continuing to carry out its extraordinary mission at a distant dwarf planet. Orbiting high above Ceres, the sophisticated Dawn spacecraft is hard at work unveiling the secrets of the exotic alien world that has been its home for almost two years.

Dawn’s primary objective in this sixth orbital phase at Ceres (known as extended mission orbit 3, XMO3 or "this sixth orbital phase at Ceres") is to record cosmic rays. Doing so will allow scientists to remove that "noise" from the nuclear radiation measurements performed during the eight months Dawn operated in a low, tight orbit around Ceres. The result will be a cleaner signal, revealing even more about the atomic constituents down to about a yard (meter) underground. As we will see below, in addition to this ongoing investigation, soon the adventurer will begin pursuing a new objective in its exploration of Ceres.

More: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/journal_01_31_17.html

Rick

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Dawn Discovers Evidence for Organic Material on Ceres
« Reply #66 on: Feb 19, 2017, 22:17:57 »
Dawn Discovers Evidence for Organic Material on Ceres

NASA's Dawn mission has found evidence for organic material on Ceres, a dwarf planet and the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists using the spacecraft's visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR) detected the material in and around a northern-hemisphere crater called Ernutet. Organic molecules are interesting to scientists because they are necessary, though not sufficient, components of life on Earth.

More: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6751

Rick

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Dawn Identifies Age of Ceres' Brightest Area
« Reply #67 on: Mar 24, 2017, 09:21:47 »
Dawn Identifies Age of Ceres' Brightest Area

The bright central area of Ceres' Occator Crater, known as Cerealia Facula, is approximately 30 million years younger than the crater in which it lies, according to a new study in the Astronomical Journal. Scientists used data from NASA's Dawn spacecraft to analyze Occator's central dome in detail, concluding that this intriguing bright feature on the dwarf planet is only about 4 million years old -- quite recent in terms of geological history.

Researchers led by Andreas Nathues at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Gottingen, Germany, analyzed data from two instruments on board NASA's Dawn spacecraft: the framing camera, and the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer.

The new study supports earlier interpretations from the Dawn team that this reflective material -- comprising the brightest area on all of Ceres -- is made of carbonate salts, although it did not confirm a particular type of carbonate previously identified. The secondary, smaller bright areas of Occator, called Vinalia Faculae, are comprised of a mixture of carbonates and dark material, the study authors wrote.

More: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6766

Rick

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Ice in Ceres' Shadowed Craters Linked to Tilt History
« Reply #68 on: Mar 24, 2017, 09:23:39 »
Ice in Ceres' Shadowed Craters Linked to Tilt History

Dwarf planet Ceres may be hundreds of millions of miles from Jupiter, and even farther from Saturn, but the tremendous influence of gravity from these gas giants has an appreciable effect on Ceres' orientation. In a new study, researchers from NASA's Dawn mission calculate that the axial tilt of Ceres -- the angle at which it spins as it journeys around the sun -- varies widely over the course of about 24,500 years. Astronomers consider this to be a surprisingly short period of time for such dramatic deviations.

Changes in axial tilt, or "obliquity," over the history of Ceres are related to the larger question of where frozen water can be found on Ceres' surface, scientists report in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Given conditions on Ceres, ice would only be able to survive at extremely cold temperatures -- for example, in areas that never see the sun.

More: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6787

Rick

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Ceres' Temporary Atmosphere Linked to Solar Activity
« Reply #69 on: Apr 07, 2017, 09:48:29 »
Ceres' Temporary Atmosphere Linked to Solar Activity

Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt that lies between Mars and Jupiter. When energetic particles from the sun hit exposed ice and ice near the surface of the dwarf planet, it transfers energy to the water molecules as they collide. This frees the water molecules from the ground, allowing them to escape and create a tenuous atmosphere that may last for a week or so.

"Our results also have implications for other airless, water-rich bodies of the solar system, including the polar regions of the moon and some asteroids," said Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission, also at UCLA. "Atmospheric releases might be expected from their surfaces, too, when solar activity erupts."

More: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6802