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NASA

Dawn Takes First Pictures of Vesta From Orbit 54

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the sightings-of-minbari-cruisers-unconfirmed dept.
thebchuckster writes with a photo gallery in International Business Times. From the article "NASA's Dawn, locked in orbit around Vesta, has sent back the first ever close-up image of the asteroid 'So far, the images received to date reveal a complex surface that seems to have preserved some of the earliest events in Vesta's history, as well as logging the onslaught that Vesta has suffered in the intervening eons,' said Dawn principal investigator Christopher Russell."
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Dawn Takes First Pictures of Vesta From Orbit

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    If these are the first ever CLOSE UP images why were they taken by Mr Blurrycam? Can't we send a 5D MarkII up there or something?

    • Seriously. I expected at least a 6MP (25 preferrably, but I'm willing to go small), tack sharp photo, and all I saw was something from the Apollo era.

      And I'd prefer a D3x, thankyouverymuch.

      • by Iskender (1040286) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @04:02PM (#36816136)

        You people need some patience and perspective. Here's one of the previous state of the art pictures: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2b/Vesta-HST-Color.jpg [wikimedia.org] . And apart from the huge improvement already evident there's the fact that Dawn is supposed to be in orbit for a year. Expecting maximum performance at this point is misguided.

        • by decora (1710862) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @06:05PM (#36817268) Journal

          "I was on an airplane and there was high-speed Internet on the airplane. That's the newest thing that I know exists. And I'm sitting on the plane and they go, open up your laptop, you can go on the Internet.

          "And it's fast, and I'm watching YouTube clips. It's amaz--I'm on an airplane! And then it breaks down. And they apologize, the Internet's not working. And the guy next to me goes, 'This is b___s___.' I mean, how quickly does the world owe him something that he knew existed only 10 seconds ago?""

        • I expect the equipment to be as accurate on day one as it is on day 366. If it's a blow up of a very small area of the sensor, heavily processed to get a usable image, then say so in the write up. Don't tell me I spent $X millon for something off of $70 ebay pinhole spycam.

          (FWIW, I worked for NASA in an area that did earth and remote sensing payloads for nearly a decade - I'm not blind to the limitations of optics and distance - but still I expect either (a) better results or (b) an explanation of why the

      • by 1u3hr (530656)

        Seriously. I expected at least a 6MP (25 preferrably, but I'm willing to go small), tack sharp photo... And I'd prefer a D3x, thankyouverymuch.

        How "tack sharp" would your D3X be of a rock 9,000 miles away?

    • by icebike (68054)

      Not the best pics yet, but then Dawn is positioned about 9,000 miles away from Vesta in its orbit.

      What is interesting is the steepness of some of the crater walls. You don't see that on bigger bodies such as the moon as the angle of repose is so much different. But with Vesta's small size and light gravity you can stack sand up pretty steeply.

      Some of the craters look almost perfectly conical with sides that approach 45 degrees. Vesta's surface gravity is 0.022g, compared to the Moon's 0.165g, which sugg

  • Actual pictures? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @03:31PM (#36815768)

    Not just "an artist rendering of what Vesta might look like", complete with red background nebula and alien laser installations? Congrats, Slashdot. Even the anaglyph picture in the 4th link is kinda cool, in a seriously retro way. Of course, the linked page has white text in gray boxes in a black background, complemented with color pictures of a gray rock in a way that seems deliberately designed to make my eyes bleed... but I can get over it. Can't believe we finally got an article on space with actual, real pictures. Yay!

    The photos reveal a heavily-cratered gray surface.

    Well, I no one ever said real photos would be terribly interesting to the non-scientist. For those who are interested, however, here [nasa.gov] is NASA's complete archive of Dawn photography.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @03:41PM (#36815894)

    Scientists have concluded that it looks like a big rock.

  • Looks like a big lizard head to me...

  • I had to click so much to get to the full size pictures :( I don't mind so much but it isn't exactly a good gallery design there NASA...
  • by rindeee (530084) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @03:55PM (#36816070)
    I'm a complete idiot with this sort of thing, but why did they orbit so far away (9k miles)? It surely can't have that great of a gravitational pull, can it? Why not get as close as is prudent (or is 9k miles the prudence limit)? It seems like the closer the better for studying the thing.
    • by AdmiralAl (1136661) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @04:13PM (#36816266) Homepage
      It's simply because they don't know the exact mass of Vesta, and therefore don't know exactly the gravitational pull of Vesta. After they are better able to determine the mass (and gravity) of Vesta, they will begin to move Dawn into a closer orbit based upon the gravitational pull.
    • by Jarnin (925269)
      Don't worry, it's supposed to get a lot closer before it takes off for Ceres.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2006/06nov_loworbit/

      The problem is that unless the object is extremely uniform, maintaining the obit at a low altitude will require a lot of fuel to make adjustments. On the Moon, for instance, a typical orbit looks more like a wavering line if you try to keep it along the equator. Obviously the farther out you go the less of a problem this becomes.Though in the Moon's case, to far out and the Earth starts to affect the object.

      P.S. best place to build a

    • by rune.w (720113)

      I'm a complete idiot with this sort of thing, but why did they orbit so far away (9k miles)? It surely can't have that great of a gravitational pull, can it? Why not get as close as is prudent (or is 9k miles the prudence limit)? It seems like the closer the better for studying the thing.

      As someone far more knowledgeable than me has pointed out elsewhere, they did this because astronomers are not sure about the exact mass of the asteroid and therefore want to play it safe until they have more data, at which point they plan to lower the orbit.

      Link [discovermagazine.com]

  • "Another purpose of Dawn's orbit around Vesta is to gather information for the eventual visit of astronauts by an asteroid by 2025"...

    I had no clue that asteroids were interested in visiting astronauts!
    • Chinese astronauts maybe.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      I had no clue that asteroids were interested in visiting astronauts!

      Alas, the feeling's not mutual, for astronauts are deathly afraid of visiting asteroids. Actually, people generally are, especially if said asteroid is larger than a certain size. But astronauts are very vary of any asteroids or meteroids, no matter how small.

      I suppose the asteroids want to explore why astronauts have this phobia.

    • I'm rather more worried about the line immediately preceding it. . .

      "We can't wait for Dawn to peel back the layers of time and reveal the early history of our solar system," said Dawn [em. added].

      OMG it's become sentient and refers to itself in the third person. This cannot be good.

      Seriously though, who wrote that text? I would think the IB Times would have some editors to catch blatant errors like that.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...In favour of Wendows 7.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      So you ran software names after this rock? Even Potato was a batter OS.
  • ok we're in a standard orbit...isn't this the point where we send down the away team?

  • Amazing... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Tuesday July 19, 2011 @04:04PM (#36816156)
    Am I the only person who is amazed by this stuff? Dawn is shot into space at 25,000 miles per hour, cruises by Mars for a gravity-assist flyby eventually (and nearly 4 years later) winding up in orbit of an asteroid that's only 330 miles in diameter whereupon it takes some pictures and sends them back....

    I can't even huck a frisbee and have it wind up where I want it to be...
    • by nofx_3 (40519)

      I too am amazed, the technology is spectacular. Too bad the general public will mostly never even hear about this mission.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Unlike other endeavours that are featured here, this is rocket science. And it shouldn't come as a surprise that rocket science is as challenging today as it was 40 years ago.

    • by Bram Stolk (24781)

      >I can't even huck a frisbee and have it wind up where I want it to be...

      That is because once thrown, you have lost all control over the frisbee.
      The spacecraft, however, can be steered continuously.

      Accuracy over a distance becomes quite irrelevant once you can navigate and steer.

      What would be impressive in this case, is of course that the steering was probably done autonomously, as the communication lag would hamper steering from earth.

          Bram

      • Actually there is no communication with Earth while the engines are running as the main antenna is fix-mounted and can only be pointed by pointing the spacecraft. Essentially they told Dawn "Ok, you can see Vesta. You know what its estimated mass is. Put yourself in about a 9.900 mile orbit and call back when you are done."

      • I can't see that. I'm sure the NASA boffins just need to send the commands an hour or so ahead of time. It's not like they have to make moment-to-moment adjustments.

  • ...asteroidy!

  • Looks like a small moon

    • by Anonymous Coward

      >Looks like a small moon

      That's no moon....

  • It's proof of alien intelligence! It's a government conspiracy to uhm...

    err...

    trick us into thinking that there was ... no..

    look, I'm just saying.

  • latest OS posted, Asteroid.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.

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