NASA Mission To Asteroid Gets Help From Hubble Space Telescope | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

** Airborne 12.17.14 ** HD iPad-Friendly -- Airborne 12.17.14 **
** Airborne 12.15.14 ** HD iPad-Friendly -- Airborne 12.15.14 **
** Airborne 12.12.14 ** HD iPad-Friendly -- Airborne 12.12.14 **

Wed, Oct 13, 2010

NASA Mission To Asteroid Gets Help From Hubble Space Telescope

Hubble Photos Will Help Determine Orbit Plans

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured images of the large asteroid Vesta that will help scientists refine plans for the Dawn spacecraft's rendezvous with the body in July 2011.


Vesta Rendezvous From NASA Animation

Scientists have constructed a video from the images that will help improve pointing instructions for Dawn as it is placed in a polar orbit around Vesta. Analyses of Hubble images revealed a pole orientation, or tilt, of approximately four degrees more to the asteroid's east than scientists previously thought. This means the change of seasons between the southern and northern hemispheres of Vesta may take place about a month later than previously expected while Dawn is orbiting the asteroid. The result is a change in the pattern of sunlight expected to illuminate the asteroid. Dawn needs solar illumination for imaging and some mapping activities.

"While Vesta is the brightest asteroid in the sky, its small size makes it difficult to image from Earth," said Jian-Yang Li, a scientist participating in the Dawn mission from the University of Maryland in College Park. "The new Hubble images give Dawn scientists a better sense of how Vesta is spinning because our new views are 90 degrees different from our previous images. It's like having a street-level view and adding a view from an airplane overhead."

The recent images were obtained by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 in February. The images complemented previous ones of Vesta taken from ground-based telescopes and Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 between 1983 and 2007. Li and his colleagues looked at 216 new images -- and a total of 446 Hubble images overall -- to clarify how Vesta was spinning. The journal Icarus recently published the report online.


Hubble Space Telescope NASA Image

"The new results give us food for thought as we make our way toward Vesta," said Christopher Russell, Dawn's principal investigator at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Because our goal is to take pictures of the entire surface and measure the elevation of features over most of the surface to an accuracy of about 33 feet, or the height of a three-story building, we need to pay close attention to the solar illumination. It looks as if Vesta is going to have a late northern spring next year, or at least later than we planned."

Launched in September 2007, Dawn will leave Vesta to encounter the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015. Vesta and Ceres are the most massive objects in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists study these celestial bodies as examples of the building blocks of terrestrial planets like Earth. Dawn is approximately 134 million miles away from Vesta. Next summer, the spacecraft will make its own measurements of Vesta's rotating surface and allow mission managers to pin down its axis of spin.

"Vesta was discovered just over 200 years ago, and we are excited now to be on the threshold of exploring it from orbit," said Bob Mase, Dawn's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "We planned this mission to accommodate our imprecise knowledge of Vesta. Ours is a journey of discovery and, with our ability to adapt, we are looking forward to collecting excellent science data at our target."

The Dawn mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, VA, designed and built the spacecraft. Several international space organizations are part of the mission team.

FMI: www.nasa.gov/dawn

Advertisement

More News

Dassault Aviation Reveals First Falcon 8X

Next Step: Maiden Flight In First Quarter 2015 Dassault Aviation on Wednesday rolled back the curtains on the ultra long range Falcon 8X, the company's new flagship and the latest >[...]

Evergreen Museum Says Its 'Business As Usual'

Some Of Its Aircraft Are On Loan From Company Reorganizing Under Bankruptcy Laws The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, OR says that it is doing just fine, thank y>[...]

Airborne 12.15.14: A380 Future, More USA Today Disappointments, Jetman FORMATION

Also: Comet Water Differences, Garmin Datalink, Bogert Battery Boxes, WSI/iOs, Mistletoe Copter Fail Airbus hasn't seen a single airline order for its double-decker A380 superjumbo>[...]

NTSB Prelim Released From Gaithersburg, MD Phenom Accident

Six Fatally Injured When Plane Impacted A Home The NTSB had released its preliminary report from an accident which occurred December 8, 2014 involving an Embraer EMB-500 Phenom 100>[...]

Airborne 12.17.14: Evergreen Woes, Foolish Pilot Tricks, No 757 Replacement--Yet

Also: $1M Aero-Photo, Draken Gets A-4s, 'Super Dell' Acts Super Dumb, Legendary Bell 47, Osprey Hours Evergreen Vintage Aircraft, LLC, the company that owns many of the aircraft on>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2014 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC