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Thread: Dawn: mission to Ceres and Vesta

  1. #1
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    Dawn: mission to Ceres and Vesta

    Dawn Will Show How Different Two Asteroids Can Be


    It's called Dawn, and in a little more than a year, this spacecraft will blast off from Florida, bound for two separate asteroids: Vesta and Ceres. Visiting the two most massive asteroids in our Solar System will be an ambitious undertaking; maybe one of the most difficult and dangerous orbital missions attempted. Dawn will bring a suite of scientific instruments to these two asteroids and serve as a time machine to help scientists understand what our Solar System looked like 4.6 billion years ago.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

  2. #2
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    Unless they have someone strapped to the nose of the rocket or think the satellite might nudge those rocks towards Earth, I don't think dangerous is a very good term to use. Difficult, sure, but implying danger carries some baggage. I'm not demeaning anything they're up to at all, but tossing the word "danger" into an article about a probe mission is going to generate a knee jerk from the woowoos and unwashed masses ("Stop Cassini" ring a bell?) they'd probably be happier doing without.

    Still, I look forward to seeing this thing go off.

  3. #3
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    I think they mean dangerous to the craft.

    CJSF
    "Find a way to show what would happen
    If you were incorrect
    A fact is just a fantasy
    Unless it can be checked
    Make a test
    Test it out"
    -They Might Be Giants, "Put It To The Test"


    lonelybirder.org

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Ferro
    I think they mean dangerous to the craft.

    CJSF
    I figured as much, I was just looking at it from the vantage point of having seen protesters latch onto every potential misrepresented fact to try making their case.

    I seriously do want to see what they find.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doodler
    I seriously do want to see what they find.
    The science team for Dawn or the protesters ;-)

    Seriously, I somehow missed that this mission was even in existence, never mind only about 1 1/2 year from launch. And I really like Dr. Rayman. I was a total DS1 Mission Log fan geek.

    CJSF
    "Find a way to show what would happen
    If you were incorrect
    A fact is just a fantasy
    Unless it can be checked
    Make a test
    Test it out"
    -They Might Be Giants, "Put It To The Test"


    lonelybirder.org

  6. #6
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    Ever since NEAR and the Galileo flybys (on the way to Jupiter), I've wanted more missions to asteroids.

    I think looking at Ceres and Vesta closeup could tell us a lot about how the solar system formed.

    Of course, it'll probably just raise more questions than it answers, but that'll be fun, too.

  7. #7
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    NASA downsizes, slows Dawn mission to near halt

    NASA has slowed development of Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Dawn mission, cutting the project's budget, shuffling employees and pushing back the scheduled June 2006 launch date.

    Selected as a Discovery Program mission in 2001, Dawn is designed to orbit two asteroids in the belt between Mars and Jupiter - Vesta in July 2010 and Ceres in August 2014.

    Chris Russell, the mission's principal investigator and a professor of geophysics at UCLA, said he was shocked by NASA's recent request that Dawn "stand down."

    "They basically said that we should slow down or almost stop the development while they decide to take a look at it and make an investigation," Russell said. "They got concerned by the number of problems that they saw that we were having."

    Tom Fraschetti, Dawn's project manager at JPL, said the problems largely arose in the development of Dawn's ion propulsion system.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

  8. #8
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    My guess is that the budget-to-payoff ratio was too high for NASA, an organization that has a vast history of money mis-management.

    Shame though.

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    NASA is not a unified block to be bashed that way. What you see are the remains of the Goldin/O'Keefe years, and Griffin having to make tough choices.

    Blame the Beltway--not NASA.

  10. #10
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    You should also know that the launch window for this mission is about one year long, as opposed to the non-ion engine missions where the launch windows can be for days to minutes. They can get away with a delay to help with the budget and still get the mission done on this one. I am looking forward to this one, though...

    If you want to see it put back on schedule and done you can always write to your Congressman and Senators.

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    Dawn spacecraft is due to be launched on November 17, budget and technical problems providing. It will explore the asteroid between Mars and Jupiter.
    http://arstechnica.com/journals/scie.../2006/1/5/2365

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    Was that picture, showing a lot of smallish rocks, really in Universe Today? It cannot have been intended to represent any part of the "asteroid belt". Presumably it was supposed to be a view of a fairly sparse ring close to a gas giant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by publiusr
    Blame the Beltway--not NASA.
    rAmen.

    I imagine there are more than a few broken hearts at NASA over losing this one, right up to O'Keefe himself, but they've got to stretch dollars that aren't getting any more numerous, courtesy of a few higher priority issues in Washington.

  14. #14
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    I can never get the Universe Today site to load. It times out every time I try. That has been going on for several days now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spherical
    I can never get the Universe Today site to load. It times out every time I try. That has been going on for several days now.

    works fine for me

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    Has everyone seen this ?

    http://wwww.space.com/missionlaunche...dawn_qown.html

    NASA Dawn Asteroid Mission Told To ‘Stand Down’

    The decision to stand down, according to SPACE.com sources, appears related to budget-related measures and workforce cutbacks at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manchurian Taikonaut
    Has everyone seen this ?

    http://wwww.space.com/missionlaunche...dawn_qown.html

    NASA Dawn Asteroid Mission Told To ‘Stand Down’

    The decision to stand down, according to SPACE.com sources, appears related to budget-related measures and workforce cutbacks at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
    ToSeeked

    I tried Googling for a status update but can't find anything consistent. I get launch dates ranging from May 2006 to sometime in 2007. The launch window, at least is over a year long, and the better launch dates are actually in 2007. So this could be a blessing in disguise in some respects.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToSeek
    ToSeeked

    I tried Googling for a status update but can't find anything consistent.
    stupid me, got myself Toseeked in this very thread

  19. #19
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    I found a bit of an update

    Space agency challenged by cost overruns, technical issues
    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=1529592
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10960815/
    Even if NASA gives Dawn the green light, it would take another year for engineers to finish routine testing of the spacecraft, said mission principal investigator Christopher Russell of the University of California, Los Angeles.
    "It's like running a relay race," Russell said. "You're on your last leg and the judges suddenly say, 'Stop.' You lose your momentum."

  20. #20
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    I suspect this might be cancelled, so they can concentrate on the shuttle and the CEV (although I am sceptical that will happen, given the budget problems at NASA)

    And no, I would not want to see this cancelled, the asteroid belt can be a good resource for metals and minerals that are getting depleted here on Earth.

  21. #21
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    This is concerning, and I really hope the mission is not cancelled. If the issues go down to the wire, I'd even be willing to cut it down to just a Ceres mission.

    ToSeek, what do you mean that the better launch dates are in 2007?

  22. #22
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    I completely disagree. Vesta is far more interesting object than Ceres. Ceres is very similar to many primitive bodies in the main asteroid belt, but Vesta has a complex geological history with lava flows etc. Additionally, it has a huge crater around its south pole, which is deep enough to expose the asteroid's mantle.

  23. #23
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    Oh I'm not saying Vesta is a boring object...I'd MUCH rather have a full mission for both. I'd just chose Ceres over Vesta if it had to be one or the other; mainly because we currently have less information on Ceres, and the fact that it may have a warm interior with a mantle of water (liquid or frozen), perhaps like the Galileans. It's large and spherical enough to sustain geological features that we otherwise don't know about because of the lack of sufficient imagery.

    It's the bigger mystery and personal opinion that makes me want Ceres more. But in all honesty, I hope the mission takes off with the science intended...both objects.

  24. #24
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    It's a start... Next step: launch a manned mission, set up a colony, start mining them rocks.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macro Mouse
    ToSeek, what do you mean that the better launch dates are in 2007?
    I can't find the reference I based that on, but it probably means that there's less travel time if it launches in 2007.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

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    NASA may pull plug on Dawn asteroid mission

    It is make-or-break time for an over-budget mission to the two largest main-belt asteroids – NASA has delayed its Dawn mission while managers review its fate.

    Two independent review panels will brief top NASA managers on Friday, who will then make the decision. The Dawn mission to asteroids Ceres and Vesta was supposed to launch in June 2006, but now it will not launch until spring 2007, at best. At worst it may be cancelled.
    The article also mentions that Dawn was already 24% over budget even before the recent issues.
    Everything I need to know I learned through Googling.

  27. #27
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    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1094

    The Dawn Mission has been cancelled. I can't say how terrible and sad that is. Ceres and Vesta may hold the keys to understanding the early solar system, the probe was almost finished... and now THAT. First TPF, now Dawn... seems to me someone at NASA is taking all the bad choices.

  28. #28
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    Angry

    Oh ****!

  29. #29
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    So, if I understood correctly, the probe was almost complete. Cancelling means that all the work and money already used has been wasted.

    It also appears that the mission designers were way too optimistic. There were some major issues with the ion engine, which doesn't work as hoped.

    Well, fortunately there's a space station which is invincible what comes to budgetary issues. I've heard astronauts' primary job is just to keep it alive. They may even make some science there, like playing golf.

  30. #30
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    There´s less and less science at NASA. It´s on the verge of becoming an entertainment agency.

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