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Topic: Ceres

NASA explains why it’s important to study Space Rocks

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA says the entire history of human existence is a tiny blip in our solar system’s 4.5-billion-year history. No one was around to see planets forming and undergoing dramatic changes before settling in their present configuration. In order to understand what came before us — before life on Earth and before Earth itself — scientists need to hunt for clues to that mysterious distant past.

Those clues come in the form of asteroids, comets and other small objects. Like detectives sifting through forensic evidence, scientists carefully examine these small bodies for insights about our origins.

The small worlds of our solar system help us trace its history and evolution, including comets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD)

The small worlds of our solar system help us trace its history and evolution, including comets. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft runs out of fun, mission ends

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has gone silent, ending a historic mission that studied time capsules from the solar system’s earliest chapter.

Dawn missed scheduled communications sessions with NASA’s Deep Space Network on Wednesday, October 31st, and Thursday, November 1st, 2018. After the flight team eliminated other possible causes for the missed communications, mission managers concluded that the spacecraft finally ran out of hydrazine, the fuel that enables the spacecraft to control its pointing.

This photo of Ceres and the bright regions of Occator Crater was one of the last views NASA's Dawn spacecraft transmitted before it completed its mission. This view, which faces south, was captured on Sept. 1 at an altitude of 2,340 miles (3,370 kilometers) as the spacecraft was ascending in its elliptical orbit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This photo of Ceres and the bright regions of Occator Crater was one of the last views NASA’s Dawn spacecraft transmitted before it completed its mission. This view, which faces south, was captured on Sept. 1 at an altitude of 2,340 miles (3,370 kilometers) as the spacecraft was ascending in its elliptical orbit. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft nears Mission’s End

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Dawn mission is drawing to a close after 11 years of breaking new ground in planetary science, gathering breathtaking imagery, and performing unprecedented feats of spacecraft engineering.

Dawn’s mission was extended several times, outperforming scientists’ expectations in its exploration of two planet-like bodies, Ceres and Vesta, that make up 45 percent of the mass of the main asteroid belt. Now the spacecraft is about to run out of a key fuel, hydrazine. When that happens, most likely between mid-September and mid-October, Dawn will lose its ability to communicate with Earth. It will remain in a silent orbit around Ceres for decades.

Artist's concept of NASA's Dawn spacecraft orbiting dwarf planet Ceres. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbiting dwarf planet Ceres. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA states Subsurface Lake may exist at Mar’s South Pole

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA reports that a new paper published in Science this week suggests that liquid water may be sitting under a layer of ice at Mars’ south pole.

The finding is based on data from the European Mars Express spacecraft, obtained by a radar instrument called MARSIS (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding). The Italian Space Agency (ASI) led the development of the MARSIS radar. NASA provided half of the instrument, with management of the U.S. portion led by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The view of Mars shown here was assembled from MOC daily global images obtained on May 12th, 2003. (NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems)

The view of Mars shown here was assembled from MOC daily global images obtained on May 12th, 2003. (NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems)

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NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft set to end 11-year Mission

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As NASA’s Dawn spacecraft prepares to wrap up its groundbreaking 11-year mission, which has included two successful extended missions at Ceres, it will continue to explore — collecting images and other data.

Within a few months, Dawn is expected to run out of a key fuel, hydrazine, which feeds thrusters that control its orientation and keeps it communicating with Earth. When that happens, sometime between August and October, the spacecraft will stop operating, but it will remain in orbit around dwarf planet Ceres.

Dawn is the only spacecraft to orbit two deep-space destinations. It has given us new, up-close views of Ceres and Vesta, the largest bodies between Mars and Jupiter.

This mosaic of Cerealia Facula in Occator Crater is based on images obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft in its second extended mission, from an altitude as low as about 21 miles (34 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This mosaic of Cerealia Facula in Occator Crater is based on images obtained by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft in its second extended mission, from an altitude as low as about 21 miles (34 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft gets new images of Occator Crater on Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – NASA’s Dawn spacecraft reached its lowest-ever and final orbit around dwarf planet Ceres on June 6th and has been returning thousands of stunning images and other data.

The flight team maneuvered the spacecraft into an orbit that dives 22 miles (35 kilometers) above the surface of Ceres and viewed Occator Crater, site of the famous bright deposits, and other intriguing regions. In more than three years of orbiting Ceres, Dawn’s lowest altitude before this month was 240 miles (385 kilometers), so the data from this current orbit bring the dwarf planet into much sharper focus.

This mosaic of a prominent mound located on the western side of Cerealia Facula was obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on June 22, 2018 from an altitude of about 21 miles (34 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This mosaic of a prominent mound located on the western side of Cerealia Facula was obtained by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on June 22, 2018 from an altitude of about 21 miles (34 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft moves to low orbit around Dwarf Planet Ceres

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA –  NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is maneuvering to its lowest-ever orbit for a close-up examination of the inner solar system’s only dwarf planet.

In early June, Dawn will reach its new, final orbit above Ceres. Soon after, it will begin collecting images and other science data from an unprecedented vantage point. This orbit will be less than 30 miles (50 kilometers) above the surface of Ceres — 10 times closer than the spacecraft has ever been.

This picture is one of the first images returned by Dawn in more than a year, as Dawn moves to its lowest-ever and final orbit around Ceres. Dawn captured this view on May 16, 2018 from an altitude of about 270 miles (440 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This picture is one of the first images returned by Dawn in more than a year, as Dawn moves to its lowest-ever and final orbit around Ceres. Dawn captured this view on May 16, 2018 from an altitude of about 270 miles (440 kilometers). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft observations show dwarf planet Ceres continues to change

 

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Observations of Ceres have detected recent variations in its surface, revealing that the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system is a dynamic body that continues to evolve and change.

NASA’s Dawn mission has found recently exposed deposits that give us new information on the materials in the crust and how they are changing, according to two papers published March 14th in Science Advances that document the new findings.

Observations obtained by the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIR) on the Dawn spacecraft previously found water ice in a dozen sites on Ceres.

This view from NASA's Dawn mission shows where ice has been detected in the northern wall of Ceres' Juling Crater, which is in almost permanent shadow. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF)

This view from NASA’s Dawn mission shows where ice has been detected in the northern wall of Ceres’ Juling Crater, which is in almost permanent shadow. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/ASI/INAF)

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NASA says Dwarf Planet Ceres is still evolving

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – If you could fly aboard NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, the surface of dwarf planet Ceres would generally look quite dark, but with notable exceptions.

These exceptions are the hundreds of bright areas that stand out in images Dawn has returned.

Now, scientists have a better sense of how these reflective areas formed and changed over time — processes indicative of an active, evolving world.

The bright areas of Occator Crater -- Cerealia Facula in the center and Vinalia Faculae to the side -- are examples of bright material found on crater floors on Ceres. This is a simulated perspective view. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI)

The bright areas of Occator Crater — Cerealia Facula in the center and Vinalia Faculae to the side — are examples of bright material found on crater floors on Ceres. This is a simulated perspective view. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI)

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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft data used to examine Dwarf Planet Ceres’ Interior Transformation

 

Written by Elyssia Widjaja
NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Surface features on Ceres — the largest world between Mars and Jupiter — and its interior evolution have a closer relationship than one might think.

A recent study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, analyzed Ceres’ surface features to reveal clues about the dwarf planet’s interior evolution. Specifically, the study explored linear features — the chains of pits and small, secondary craters common on Ceres.

This image made with data from NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows pit chains on dwarf planet Ceres called Samhain Catenae. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

This image made with data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows pit chains on dwarf planet Ceres called Samhain Catenae. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

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