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ToSeek
2001-Dec-26, 02:50 PM
The latest two selections in the Discovery program of low-cost missions:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011224080741.htm

I'm particularly excited about the selection of Kepler, which is the first program with the capability of finding Earth-sized planets around other stars.

jkmccrann
2005-Nov-01, 05:51 PM
The latest two selections in the Discovery program of low-cost missions:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/12/011224080741.htm

I'm particularly excited about the selection of Kepler, which is the first program with the capability of finding Earth-sized planets around other stars.



The missions are Dawn, slated for launch in 2006, which will orbit the two largest asteroids in our solar system, and Kepler, a spaceborne telescope, also scheduled for launch in 2006, which will search for Earth-like planets around stars beyond the solar system.

"Kepler and Dawn are exactly the kind of missions NASA should be launching, missions that tackle some of the most important questions in science yet do it for a very modest cost," said Dr. Edward Weiler, associate administrator for space science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "It's an indicator of how far we've come in our capability to explore space when missions with such ambitious goals are proposed for the Discovery Program of lower-cost missions rather than as major projects costing ten times as much."

The Dawn mission will make a nine-year journey to orbit the two most massive asteroids known, Vesta and Ceres, two "baby planets" very different from each other yet both containing tantalizing clues about the formation of the solar system. Using the same set of instruments to observe these two bodies, both located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn will improve our understanding of how planets formed during the earliest epoch of the solar system.


I've been pleasantly surprised to discover these missions are both still on track to be launched.


http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/research/exploringtheuniverse/exploringtheuniverse-kepler.html


I'd never heard of the Dawn mission before, but its scheduled to launch June 17th next year. Very exciting news, particularly as to me at least its very new news

John L
2005-Nov-01, 09:51 PM
I've followed the development of the Dawn mission for several years. There is speculation that Ceres is more planet-like than asteroid-like and this should prove that. This means that it has a core, mantel, and crust. There is speculation that it has significant ice deposits and possible a thin atmosphere as well. Vesta, being significantly smaller, probably is more asteroid-like (similar to Eros and Itokawa). The really cool thing about this mission, though, is that it will fly out to one of the asteroids first, orbit it for detailed study, then power up its engines again and fly to the other for another detailed orbital study. I hope they do Ceres last, and then at teh end of the mission do a NEAR-like landing on the surface. That would be cool.

ToSeek
2005-Nov-01, 11:00 PM
Dawn will do Vesta first, then Ceres, as this Universe Today story (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/dawn_two_asteroids.html) explains.

Ilya
2005-Nov-02, 01:38 AM
I've been pleasantly surprised to discover these missions are both still on track to be launched.

Why exactly were you surprised?

Kullat Nunu
2005-Nov-02, 10:33 AM
I hope they do Ceres last, and then at the end of the mission do a NEAR-like landing on the surface. That would be cool.

As you said, Ceres is very planet-like. That means that it's gravity is also much stronger than on an average asteroid. So soft landing isn't possible.

I'd like to see Dawn leaving the orbit around Ceres and going to study yet another asteroid. But let's hope it first completes its primary mission successfully.

Kullat Nunu
2005-Nov-02, 10:34 AM
Why exactly were you surprised?

They weren't cancelled?

Well, Kepler's launch was postponed due to budged cuts. :doh:

jkmccrann
2005-Nov-03, 08:24 AM
Why exactly were you surprised?

Only because of the lack of press that these missions receive. The obsession with Mars is fine, but the general public out there (which in relation to space exploration I've been a member of for the past couple of years mainly due to time constraints), is simply not aware of the other worthwhile and interesting missions being carried out by NASA and various other space agencies.

I had heard about these missions a few years ago and was definitely excited about them, but not having kept-up-to-date with their progression, its always pleasing to find that they're still on track, particularly in light of all the bad press NASA often puts up with.

Basically, to the general public NASA is the ISS/Shuttles & Mars. ISS/Shuttles = Massive waste of money (not to mention extremely dangerous), and Mars = Search for life. I don't think there's much else on the NASA radar for the great majority of people, and that is most definitely reflected in NASA's coverage in the mainstream media.

ToSeek
2005-Nov-03, 03:01 PM
Unmanned missions only get press when they're announced, when they're about to launch, when they start their mission, or when they find something stupendous (or when they screw up badly).

CJSF
2005-Nov-03, 03:38 PM
Why so long to Vesta? 5 years? Are they really that much farther away than Mars? We can get to Mars in less than a year. I realize Vesta is at a greater distance and would take longer, but over 4 years longer?

CJSF

spfrss
2005-Nov-03, 05:00 PM
Why so long to Vesta? 5 years? Are they really that much farther away than Mars? We can get to Mars in less than a year. I realize Vesta is at a greater distance and would take longer, but over 4 years longer?

CJSF
because mission uses ion drive, so verrrrrrry weak thrust but for a VERY long time... in the end getting BOTH Ceres and Vesta, all but impossible with chemical rockets. Drawback is that you have a fairly leisurely pace across Solar System, think that SMART-1 took nearly a year to enter orbit around the Moon using ion drive :D

mauro

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-03, 06:12 PM
Ion Drive - same force as a piece of paper falling, but per second, to add together to quite a great amount of speed in space.

CJSF
2005-Nov-03, 07:47 PM
Oh, OK. I hadn't realized they were going to use ion drive... that's what I get for skimming the web pages that fast!

:doh:

CJSF

John L
2005-Nov-03, 09:51 PM
Also we need to slip into orbit. If we wanted to get something there in a short time frame we could, but it would blow right past it. For this we have to slip in behind it and get caught in its gravity.

harlequin
2005-Nov-04, 02:25 AM
Unmanned missions only get press when they're announced, when they're about to launch, when they start their mission, or when they find something stupendous (or when they screw up badly).

In other words they get press if they make NEWs (hopefully at least).

Sure I would love to hear about Opportunity and Spirit's every move on the evening news but it is really not justified for a general audience. For us fans it is exciting, but for most it is just another rock. For a general news, the rovers might get featured for the mention as a story of wild success against the odds. But otherwise unless something really major comes along it will not get covered in the context of general news. If I was in charge of the evening newscast I don't think that the unmanned missions would get that much more coverage than they do now. (Though I would not discriminate against a probe because it was not made in the U.S. thus proving that I could never hold down that job.) The science section of the paper will do a bit better, but even it does not cover the rovers that much anymore. But then again, with the web we can look up the specialized stuff we like to lean about...

In the end, after a while repeated success ceases to be news. Maybe we should wish that the rovers don't make the general news other than the rare milestone (anniversaries, etc) pieces. Because if they don't make the general news it means that the rovers are still at work.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-04, 02:03 PM
In the end, after a while repeated success ceases to be news.

Yeah, which leads, unfortunately, to a rather interesting phenoma.

Number of aircraft that take off and land without problem: 10,000. For every 10,000 of those planecraft that take off: 1 has a problem. For every 1 that has a problem: .1 crash.

Yet what do people focus on? The crashes.

Same with NASA's endeavors. We focus on the mistakes, not the successes, and thus, people get a bad idea about A) Space travel, and B) NASA.

As if the Conspiracy Theorists really need more help.

publiusr
2005-Nov-04, 08:15 PM
Some interesting language here:

Asteroid threat after all? http://www.space.com/news/051103_asteroid_apophis.html

Fireballs: http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/051103_taurid_fireballs.html

Don't count on the Air Farce:
http://www.spacewar.com/news/abm-05zi.html

Kullat Nunu
2005-Nov-07, 01:49 PM
DAMN! :mad:

Space.com: NASA Dawn Asteroid Mission Told To ‘Stand Down’ (http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/051107_dawn_qown.html)


A NASA mission to two of the largest asteroids in the solar system being readied for liftoff next year has been placed in “stand down” mode.

...

Dawn has been on NASA’s books for liftoff in mid-June 2006.

...

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.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-07, 01:58 PM
I tell ya, corporations are the way to go. They don't suffer government budget cuts.

(There would be other things to contend with, but still.)

jkmccrann
2005-Nov-07, 03:14 PM
DAMN! :mad:

Space.com: NASA Dawn Asteroid Mission Told To ‘Stand Down’ (http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/051107_dawn_qown.html)

Relating to my earlier sentiment expressed on this thread, I am unpleasantly unsurprised at this development.

Kullat Nunu
2005-Nov-07, 08:06 PM
I tell ya, corporations are the way to go. They don't suffer government budget cuts.

(There would be other things to contend with, but still.)

Until the planetary missions bring profit and are not too risky (which won't happen), corporations won't be interested.

Kullat Nunu
2005-Nov-07, 08:07 PM
Fortunately, according to the article, Dawn has a very long launch window. So they may be able to launch it on time.

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-07, 08:58 PM
Until the planetary missions bring profit and are not too risky (which won't happen), corporations won't be interested.

http://www.transformspace.com/

http://www.spacetoday.org/Weblinks/corporations.html

I'm just quickly looking these up quickly, but doesn't this support my opinion that corporations are becoming interested in space-related stuff? Also, does this not mean that corporations are currently interested in space-related stuff?

Also, am I the only one that thinks that planetary missions have a huge potential for bringing profit?

Kullat Nunu
2005-Nov-08, 08:01 PM
http://www.spacetoday.org/Weblinks/corporations.html

They seem to do satellite business, which has been profiting business already for a some time.


I'm just quickly looking these up quickly, but doesn't this support my opinion that corporations are becoming interested in space-related stuff? Also, does this not mean that corporations are currently interested in space-related stuff?

They are interested in satellite-related stuff. No planetary missions. I haven't seen any real plans except for the NEAP (Near Earth Asteroid Prospector) mission which went busted.


Also, am I the only one that thinks that planetary missions have a huge potential for bringing profit?

You aren't the only one, you can be certain about that! ;)

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-08, 08:57 PM
Yes, but there are corporations that develop space-related gear. Satellites, GPS, space station, aeronautic engineering.

As it stands, corporations are already making money off of dealing in space-related gear. Planetary missions are a very good long-term investment -- the main problem is in having the initial money to start them up. However, once you have that initial money and send them off, then you can start doing some remote-mining. There are many resources in the galaxy that are unharvested, that would be very beneficial to corporations.

That's just my view, though. Maybe I'm just dumb/too optimistic.

Kullat Nunu
2005-Nov-09, 09:22 PM
No, you're not dumb. You're really optimistic IMHO, but on the other hand I tend to be rather pessimistic. It doesn't hurt to be reasonably optimistic, but pessimism benefits none. So in that sense I envy you...

Asteroid mining is far too costly compared to traditional mining. Unless some absolutely essential raw material that isn't available on Earth is suddenly needed. Only such material I'm aware of is Helium-3 which could be used in fusion reactors.

But if for some reason space travel becomes commonplace, space business would have much greater importance. It wouldn't be sensible to send material to orbit or further from Earth when it can be conveniently collected from asteroids.

Spacemad
2005-Nov-09, 09:38 PM
Relating to my earlier sentiment expressed on this thread, I am unpleasantly unsurprised at this development.

I, too, share your feelings, it comes as no surprise when we see NASA scraping away, almost, the bottom of the barrel in order to save money for use with the ISS & Shuttle missions as well as the need to develop the next craft to take the shuttles' place in the space programmes of the future that President Bush announced (return to the Moon & on to Mars).

NASA has some really great programmes lined up - shame they can't get off the ground (quite literally!!!) due to lack of funds. It's a shame many programmes have been put "on ice" till the funds become available!

zephyr46
2005-Nov-10, 03:34 AM
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1502408.htm

ABC news story about a space tug that uses gravity to tow asteroids off colision course.

ToSeek
2005-Nov-10, 04:51 PM
http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200511/s1502408.htm

ABC news story about a space tug that uses gravity to tow asteroids off colision course.

ToSeeked (http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php?t=34660)

SolusLupus
2005-Nov-10, 06:27 PM
There's something amusing about Toseek saying that someone's Toseeked, by someone that is not Toseek. Don't ask me why, it just is.