Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Set Orbit Around Ceres

Courtesy of NASA
Dawn, the amazing unmanned spacecraft at the command of Marc Rayman as Mission Director and Dr. Chris Russell as the Principal Investigator with thier crew of scientists and engineers, has entered into orbit around Ceres.  This is a remarkable achievement as it is the first time in human history that an unmanned spacecraft has entered into orbit around a second space body in one mission.  Dawn was able to do this thanks to its multiple ion drives.  Dawn is an amazing spacecraft and will likely find new discoveries at Ceres.

No other spacecraft has been as powerful or versatile as Dawn.  It has been in orbit around the asteroid Vesta and has made geologic observations with spectrographic data.  Then it left Vesta and made its way to Ceres, a 30 month journey.  It did encounter equipment failures, but the crew was able to work around them to keep the mission alive.

Ceres is currently labeled as a Dwarf Planet.  That is the same label Pluto ended up with.  There are other Dwarf Planets of lesser notoriety.  Dawn will take some time to close its orbit around Ceres to get good image resolutions.  Ceres is already causing mystery.  It is sporting a bright spot or two that is making people get messed up hair from all the scratching.  I'm sure conspiracy theorists and ufologist are loving this.  Yep, drama may ensue.

So finding new discoveries at Ceres and being just amazing I think Dawn is flipping the bill.  For sure it is a mission to keep track of.  So here is to the venerable crew of Dawn.  Live long and prosper.