PIA17662: Antonia in Blue December 20, 2013Posted by jtintle in Space Fotos.
Tags: Antonia Crater, asteroid Vesta, Dawn Spacecraft, DLR Institute of Planetary Research, IDA, JPL-Caltech, NASA, UCLAMPS
This colorized composite image from NASA’s Dawn mission shows the crater Antonia, which lies in the enormous Rheasilvia basin in the southern hemisphere of the giant asteroid Vesta. The area lies around 58 degrees south latitude. Antonia has a diameter of 11 miles (17 kilometers).
The image was taken by Dawn’s framing camera from September to October 2011.
The light blue material is fine-grain material excavated from the lower crust. The southern edge of the crater was buried by coarser material shortly after the crater formed. The dark blue of the southern crater rim is due to shadowing of the blocky material.
The composite image was created by assigning ratios of color information collected from several color filters in visible light and near-infrared light to maximize subtle differences in lithology (the physical characteristics of rock units, such as color, texture and composition). The color scheme pays special attention to the iron-rich mineral pyroxene.
The Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The University of California, Los Angeles, is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. The Dawn framing cameras were developed and built under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, with significant contributions by DLR German Aerospace Center, Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, and in coordination with the Institute of Computer and Communication Network Engineering, Braunschweig. The framing camera project is funded by the Max Planck Society, DLR and NASA.
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Dawn Mission Status: Spacecraft Tests Ion Engine October 9, 2007Posted by jtintle in Space Fotos, Spacecraft.
Tags: asteroid Vesta, Dawn Spacecraft, dwarf planet Ceres, ion propulsion system, JPL, NASA
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft successfully completed the first test of its ion propulsion system over the weekend. The system is vital to the success of Dawn’s 8-year, 1.6 billion-kilometer (3-billion-mile) journey to asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.
“Dawn is our baby and over the weekend it took some of its first steps,” said Dawn project manager Keyur Patel of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “We have two months more checkout and characterization remaining before Dawn is considered mission operational, but this is a great start.”
Members of the Dawn mission control team have been sending up commands and checking out spacecraft systems ever since its successful launch on Sept. 27. The first test firing of one of Dawn’s three ion engines was the culmination of several days of careful preparation.On Saturday, Oct. 6 at 6:07 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (9:07 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time), the ion propulsion system began thrusting. Over the next 27 hours, spacecraft controllers and navigators at JPL monitored the engine’s performance as it was put through its paces.
“We evaluated the engine’s capabilities at five different throttle levels,” said Jon Brophy, the Dawn project’s ion propulsion manager at JPL. “From flight idle through full throttle, the engine performed flawlessly.”
Dawn’s ion engines are extremely frugal powerhouses. The 27 hours of thrusting from the ion engine resulted in the consumption of less than .28 kilograms (10 ounces) of the spacecraft’s xenon fuel supply — less than the contents of a can of soda. Dawn’s fuel tank carries 425 kilograms (937 pounds) of xenon propellant. Over their lifetime, Dawn’s three ion propulsion engines will fire cumulatively for about 50,000 hours (over five years) — a record for spacecraft.
Dawn will begin its exploration of asteroid Vesta in 2011 and the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015. These two icons of the asteroid belt have been witness to so much of our solar system’s history. By utilizing the same set of instruments at two separate destinations, scientists can more accurately formulate comparisons and contrasts. Dawn’s science instrument suite will measure shape, surface topography, tectonic history, elemental and mineral composition, and will seek out water-bearing minerals. In addition, the Dawn spacecraft itself and how it orbits both Vesta and Ceres will be used to measure the celestial bodies’ masses and gravity fields.
The Dawn mission to asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The University of California, Los Angeles is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Other scientific partners include: Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico; Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg, Germany; DLR Institute for Planetary Research, Berlin, Germany; Italian National Institute for Astrophysics, Rome; and the Italian Space Agency. Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the Dawn spacecraft.