7 November 2010: Dawn is now just 15 million km away from 4 Vesta

Sunday, November 07, 2010

This is an update to this and many other previous posts tracking the position of the Dawn spacecraft in relation to its first destination 4 Vesta, the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt. As always the comparison used is the asteroid 21 Lutetia taken at a distance of 900,000 km by the spacecraft Rosetta during a recent flyby:

whereas Vesta is still much farther away (15 million km) but has a diameter of 540 km in comparison with Lutetia's 100 km. This gives Vesta a surface area some 30 times larger than that of 21 Lutetia, roughly equivalent to Macedonia vs. Turkey both in terms of real surface area and comparative size:

And now the image showing the distance from Dawn to Vesta:

The grey circle at the bottom is Vesta during the last update, about a month ago when it was 18 million km away.

15 million km, by the way, is just 0.1 AU.

In the meantime as we wait we now have a quick video showing the images of the comet Hartley 2 during the flyby a few days ago:

but just as interesting is this video showing the team as they waited for the first closeup images from the probe, and their elation as soon as it came in.

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