Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Dawn Spacecraft Heads Toward Final Orbit

This mosaic shows Ceres' Occator crater and surrounding terrain from an altitude of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers), as seen by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Occator is about 60 miles (90 kilometers) across and 2 miles (4 kilometers) deep. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA's Dawn spacecraft fired up its ion engine on Friday, Oct. 23, to begin its journey toward its fourth and final science orbit at dwarf planet Ceres. The spacecraft completed two months of observations from an altitude of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers) and transmitted extensive imagery and other data to Earth.

The spacecraft is now on its way to the final orbit of the mission, called the low-altitude mapping orbit. Dawn will spend more than seven weeks descending to this vantage point, which will be less than 235 miles (380 kilometers) from the surface of Ceres. In mid-December, Dawn will begin taking observations from this orbit, including images at a resolution of 120 feet (35 meters) per pixel.

Of particular interest to the Dawn team is Occator crater, home to Ceres' bright spots. A new mosaic of images from Dawn's third science orbit highlights the crater and surrounding terrain.

Dawn orbited and explored the giant protoplanet Vesta in 2011-2012, and now it is in orbit and exploring a second new world, dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn's goal is to characterize the conditions and processes of its earliest history by investigating in detail two of the largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formation.

Dawn's mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK, Inc., of Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Credit: jpl.nasa.gov

2 comments:

  1. Love y'all's stuff , keep it coming , KEEP REACHING FOR THE STARS , ETC. , and thanks infinitely , TO INFINITY AND BEYOND !!! ...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love y'all's stuff , keep it coming , KEEP REACHING FOR THE STARS , ETC. , and thanks infinitely , TO INFINITY AND BEYOND !!! ...

    ReplyDelete