Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dawn opens its eyes, checks its instruments

Date:
March 22, 2011
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
After a hibernation of about six months, the framing cameras on board NASA's Dawn spacecraft have again ventured a look into the stars. The spacecraft also powered up its visible and infrared mapping spectrometer, which investigates surface mineralogy, and the gamma ray and neutron detector, which detects elemental composition. The reactivation prepares the instruments for the May approach and July arrival at Vesta, Dawn's first port of call in the asteroid belt.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft, illustrated in this artist's concept, is propelled by ion engines.
Credit: NASA/JPL

After a hibernation of about six months, the framing cameras on board NASA's Dawn spacecraft have again ventured a look into the stars. The spacecraft also powered up its visible and infrared mapping spectrometer, which investigates surface mineralogy, and the gamma ray and neutron detector, which detects elemental composition. The reactivation prepares the instruments for the May approach and July arrival at Vesta, Dawn's first port of call in the asteroid belt.

Related Articles


"Last week, we gently 'woke up' Dawn's three science instruments, which typically spend most of their time sleeping during the three-and-a-half-year journey to Vesta," said Robert Mase, Dawn project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "This activity confirms that Dawn is on track for the first close examination of one of the last unexplored worlds of the inner solar system."

The framing camera activities were led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany. "The camera system is working flawlessly. The dry run was a complete success," said Andreas Nathues, lead investigator for the framing camera, based at the Institute.

The international team of Dawn scientists and engineers in Germany and the United States spent three days interacting with the camera system, confirming the excellent health of the mechanical and electrical components and updating the software.

In the months to come, the camera system will provide images needed to navigate the spacecraft to its rendezvous with Vesta, and will begin to image the asteroid's surface. These early images on approach will be the start of a campaign to systematically map Vesta's surface in detail and will provide tantalizing clues as to its mineralogical composition. In addition, the framing cameras will search for moons in Vesta's vicinity and look for evidence of past volcanic activity.

The Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Dawn mission is part of the Discovery Program managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science.

The framing cameras have been developed and built under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, with significant contributions by DLR German Aerospace Center, Institute of Planetary Research, Berlin, and in coordination with the Institute of Computer and Communication Network Engineering, Braunschweig. The framing camera project is funded by the Max Planck Society, DLR, and NASA. The visible and infrared mapping spectrometer was provided by the Italian Space Agency and is operated by Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics in collaboration with Galileo Avionica, where it was built. The gamma ray and neutron detector was built by Los Alamos National Laboratory and is operated by the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Ariz.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Dawn opens its eyes, checks its instruments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322115810.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2011, March 22). Dawn opens its eyes, checks its instruments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322115810.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Dawn opens its eyes, checks its instruments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110322115810.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Astronauts Leave Space Station for Third Spacewalk

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 1, 2015) NASA Commander Barry Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts perform their third spacewalk in eight days outside the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Spacesuit Water Leaks Not An Issue On Latest ISS Walk

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) Astronauts are ahead of schedule with hardware upgrades to the International Space Station, despite last week&apos;s spacesuit water leak scare. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Hole 12 Billion Times the Size of Sun Discovered at Dawn of Universe

Black Hole 12 Billion Times the Size of Sun Discovered at Dawn of Universe

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) Scientists are saying they&apos;ve spotted a black hole 12 billion time bigger than the sun. Patrick Jones (@Patrick_E_Jones) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Spots Two Bright Points On Ceres

NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Spots Two Bright Points On Ceres

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) NASA scientists still don&apos;t have a clear picture of the bright spots showing up on the surface of Ceres, a minor planet in the asteroid belt. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins