Skip to comments.
Sky and Telescope Website ^
| Shweta Krishnan
Posted on 05/14/2011 4:29:46 AM PDT by Lonesome in Massachussets
If you were riding with NASAs Dawn spacecraft, now cruising the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, you would see a brightening new point of light against the starry background. This is Vesta, your immediate destination.
Artist rendition of Dawn gathering spectral data from Vesta. Scientists have estimated that Dawn will enter Vestas gravitational field on July 16, 2011, and begin taking data when it descends to an altitude of 2700 km from the surface.
Dawns first image of Vesta, the second-largest object in the asteroid belt, still has fewer pixels than those of it taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2007. But this view and others enable engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California to steer the craft into precisely the right direction for its meet-up with Vesta this summer.
Launched on Sept. 27, 2007, Dawn has been cruising through interplanetary space, gently pushed along by its ion-fueled propulsion system. It's due to brake into orbit around Vesta in mid-July and reach its lower mapping orbit in mid-August. After a year there, Dawn will work its way out of orbit and travel on to Ceres a round, 590-mile-wide dwarf planet that probably has a rocky core and an icy surface.
(Excerpt) Read more at skyandtelescope.com ...
KEYWORDS: asteroids; astronomy; ceres; dawnspacecraft; navigation; vesta
Go to the link for more pictures and "the rest of the story." http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/home/121728609.html
Something for APOD ping list?
To: Lonesome in Massachussets
|Cool (Free!) Astronomy-related Software:
Please FReepmail other suggestions
- Celestia (MAC/Win/Linux): (GET THIS ONE! -- m_f) A real-time space simulation that lets you experience our universe in three dimensions. Unlike most planetarium software, Celestia doesn't confine you to the surface of the Earth. You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000 stars, or even beyond the galaxy. All travel in Celestia is seamless; the exponential zoom feature lets you explore space across a huge range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few meters across. A 'point-and-goto' interface makes it simple to navigate through the universe to the object you want to visit.
- Sky Screen Saver: Shows the sky above any location on Earth, including stars (from the Yale Bright Star Catalogue of more than 9000 stars to the 7th magnitude), the Moon in its correct phase and position in the sky, and the position of the Sun and all the planets in the sky.
Outlines, boundaries, and names of constellations can be displayed, as well as names and Bayer/Flamsteed designations of stars brighter than a given threshold. A database of more than 500 deep-sky objects, including all the Messier objects and bright NGC objects can be plotted to a given magnitude. The ecliptic and celestial equator can be plotted, complete with co-ordinates.
- Home Planet: A comprehensive astronomy / space / satellite-tracking package for Microsoft Windows 95/98/Me and Windows NT 4.0/2000/XP and above. Selected features:
- An earth map, showing day and night regions, location of the Moon and current phase, and position of a selected earth satellite. Earth maps can be customised and extended.Hposition and phase data for the Sun and Moon.
- Panel showing positions of planets and a selected asteroid or comet, both geocentric and from the observer's location.
- A sky map, based on either the Yale Bright Star Catalogue or the 256,000 star SAO catalogue, including rendering of spectral types, planets, earth satellites, asteroids and comets.
- Databases of the orbital elements of 5632 asteroids and principal periodic comets are included, allowing selection of any for tracking.
- A telescope window which can be aimed by clicking in the sky map or telescope itself, by entering coordinates, or by selecting an object in the Object Catalogue.
- A horizon window which shows the view toward the horizon at any given azimuth.
- Object Catalogue allows archiving images, sounds, and tabular data about celestial objects.
- Orrery allows viewing the solar system, including a selected asteroid or comet, from any vantage point in space, in a variety of projections.
- Satellite tracking panel. Select an Earth satellite from a database of two-line elements, and see its current position and altitude.
- View Earth From panel allows you to view a texture-mapped image of the Earth as seen from the Sun, Moon, a selected Earth satellite, above the observing location, or the antisolar point.
- Satellite database selection allows maintenance of multiple lists of satellites, for example TV broadcast, ham radio, low orbit, etc.
- Cartes du Ciel Sky Charts: Enables you to draw sky charts, making use of the data in 16 catalogs of stars and nebulae. In addition the position of planets, asteroids and comets are shown.
- SETI@Home: A scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data.
Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual
posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its
management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the
exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson