Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

NASA Mission to Asteroid Gets Help from Hubble Space Telescope

12.10.2010
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured images of the large asteroid Vesta that will help scientists refine plans for the Dawn spacecraft's rendezvous with Vesta in July 2011.

Scientists have constructed a video from the images that will help improve pointing instructions for Dawn as it is placed in a polar orbit around Vesta. Analyses of Hubble images revealed a pole orientation, or tilt, of approximately four degrees more to the asteroid's east than scientists previously thought.

This means the change of seasons between the southern and northern hemispheres of Vesta may take place about a month later than previously expected while Dawn is orbiting the asteroid. The result is a change in the pattern of sunlight expected to illuminate the asteroid. Dawn needs solar illumination for imaging and some mapping activities.

"While Vesta is the brightest asteroid in the sky, its small size makes it difficult to image from Earth," said Jian-Yang Li, a scientist participating in the Dawn mission from the University of Maryland in College Park. "The new Hubble images give Dawn scientists a better sense of how Vesta is spinning because our new views are 90 degrees different from our previous images. It's like having a street-level view and adding a view from an airplane overhead."

The recent images were obtained by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 in February. The images complemented previous ones of Vesta taken from ground-based

telescopes and Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 between 1983 and 2007. Li and his colleagues looked at 216 new images -- and a total of 446 Hubble images overall -- to clarify how Vesta was spinning. The journal Icarus recently published the report online.

"The new results give us food for thought as we make our way toward Vesta," said Christopher Russell, Dawn's principal investigator at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Because our goal is to take pictures of the entire surface and measure the elevation of features over most of the surface to an accuracy of about 33 feet, or the height of a three-story building, we need to pay close attention to the solar illumination. It looks as if Vesta is going to have a late northern spring next year, or at least later than we planned."

Launched in September 2007, Dawn will leave Vesta to encounter the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015. Vesta and Ceres are the most massive objects in the main

asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists study these celestial bodies as examples of the building blocks of terrestrial planets like Earth. Dawn is approximately 134 million miles away from Vesta. Next summer, the spacecraft will make its own measurements of Vesta's rotating surface and allow mission managers to pin down its axis of spin.

"Vesta was discovered just over 200 years ago, and we are excited now to be on the threshold of exploring it from orbit," said Bob Mase, Dawn's project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. "We planned this mission to accommodate our imprecise knowledge of Vesta. Ours is a journey of discovery and, with our ability to adapt, we are looking forward to collecting excellent science data at our target."

The Dawn mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., designed and built the spacecraft. Several international space organizations are part of the mission team.

To see the Vesta images and video, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/dawn/multimedia/vestavid20101008.html

and

http://hubblesite.org/news/2010/33

To learn more about Dawn and its mission to the asteroid belt, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/dawn

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The SpaceTelescope Science Institute (STScI) conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington, D.C.

Dwayne Brown | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.nasa.gov

Further reports about: Asteroid Earth's magnetic field Hubble NASA STScI Science TV Space Telescope Telescope

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Study offers new theoretical approach to describing non-equilibrium phase transitions
27.04.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history
26.04.2017 | Southwest Research Institute

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>