Dawn's new images from Vesta, ARTEMIS arrives at the moon, hunting for Kuiper Belt objects

Friday, June 24, 2011

Three very exciting pieces of space news to share today.

First is Dawn's newest press release, a live conference held today that showed their closest photographs yet of Vesta. The newest images taken on 20 June show Vesta looking kind of like Mimas:

I won't go into more detail as I write too much about Dawn and Vesta already anyway. Google News will tell you more.

Next up: ARTEMIS has arrived! This mission was a complete freebie, which is what makes it extra sweet. Two satellites of six (if I remember correctly) orbiting the Earth began falling further and further into shadow and were in danger of going out of commission, so engineers did a bit of investigation and found out that with some clever maneuvers they would be able to get both of them into lunar orbit in a few months if they used some clever mechanics making use of Lagrange points. I mentioned this in October when we first heard about it, a post that included this video that shows exactly how it is (was) done.

It seems from the article that they took longer to arrive in orbit than the originally projected April date (though the article doesn't mention that), but have even more fuel than originally thought which is a big plus.

Finally, a project to help discover Kuiper Belt objects. Read about it here, or go to the main site here. This might be the most exciting collaborative project yet, and it is quite simple: look for dots and circle them, and dots that receive the most circling will get followed up on. I think I'll start helping out with this tomorrow or the day after.


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