7 December 2010: Dawn is now just 11 million km from Vesta...and Akatsuki has just about arrived

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

First the second part of the title: Akatsuki has just about arrived at Venus! Apparently they have a signal from the probe and are checking its status...we'll find out in a short while whether orbital insertion was successful and how things are going at Venus. Feels like it was launched just yesterday.

Edit: Wat. Akatsuki missed Venus and might have another try in seven years. Well that just ruined my day.

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Somewhere else in the Solar System, Dawn continues to circle the Sun while slowly (relatively slowly) approaching Vesta, and it's now just 11 million km away. My last post on Dawn was a month ago when it was 15 million km away, and as always I'm going to compare its distance to the distance from the Rosetta probe to 21 Lutetia when it was 900,000 km away, as 21 Lutetia is about 100 km in diameter while Vesta is a full 530 km, and thanks to this image of Lutetia taken at that distance we can imagine what Vesta must look like to Dawn at the moment:


So let's adjust the map. Now it looks like this:

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