Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

NASA prepares for asteroid rendezvous
by Staff Writers
Pasadena, Calif. (UPI) Aug 24, 2010

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

NASA is getting ready for its Dawn spacecraft's encounter with a giant asteroid, set to happen in less than a year, the agency said.

Dawn will conduct a detailed study as it spends a year circling the asteroid Vesta, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit a body in the solar system's asteroid belt, reported Tuesday.

There have been previous missions to asteroids, but scientists say Vesta offers a chance for something special.

"Vesta is going to amaze us," Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said.

At 350 miles across, Vesta is the second-largest body in the asteroid belt, containing almost 10 percent of the entire belt's mass. Only the asteroid Ceres, so large it is considered a dwarf planet, is a bigger belt object than Vesta.

"It's a big, rocky, terrestrial-type body -- more likely similar to the moon and Mercury than to the little chips of rocks we've flown by in the past," Rayman said of Vesta.

Scientists expect Dawn's mission will help them understand how planets form.

Astronomers think Vesta was in the process of becoming a full-fledged planet when Jupiter interrupted its growth as the gas giant's gravity stirred up the material in the asteroid belt so objects there could no longer come together and coalesce.

After a year orbiting Vesta, Dawn will move on to take a look at the only asteroid considered even more interesting, the dwarf planet Ceres.


Related Links
Asteroid and Comet Mission News, Science and Technology

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Japan plans second asteroid sample grab
Tokyo (UPI) Aug 19, 2010
Japan will send another satellite on a mission to capture material from an asteroid and bring it back to Earth for study, scientists say. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency says a successor to the troubled Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa, which managed to return a capsule to Earth this year, could launch as early as 2104, reported Wednesday. The cost of the new spacecr ... read more

Caterpillar Joins Sponsors Of First Expedition

LRO Reveals Incredible Shrinking Moon

A Hop, Skip And A Jump On The Moon - And Beyond

China's Lunar Twins

The Mutating Mars Hoax

NASA's Marks 35th Anniversary Of Mars Viking Mission

Martian 'mud' volcanoes eyed for life

Opportunity Keeps On Driving To Endeavour Crater

DLR Develops Custom Flight Control System For SHEFEX II

SpaceX's Dragon Spacecraft Completes High Altitude Drop Test

Astronauts Stay Strong With Help From SolidWorks

Researchers Explore Physiological Effects Of Space Travel

China Finishes Construction Of First Unmanned Space Module

China Contributes To Space-Based Information Access A Lot

China Sends Research Satellite Into Space

China eyes Argentina for space antenna

ISS orbit corrected

ISS Reboosted And Cooling System Fully Operational

ISS Could Last Another Decade - Roscosmos

Astronauts make third space foray to fix ISS cooling pump

Arianespace Announces Launch Contracts For Intelsat-20 And GSAT 10 Satellites

Arianespace Launches Two Satellites

New Rocket Launch Period In And Around Tanegashima

Kourou Spaceport Welcomes New Liquid Oxygen And Liquid Nitrogen Production Facility

Richest Planetary System Discovered

Planets In Unusually Intimate Dance Around Dying Star

Detector Technology Could Help NASA Find Earth-Like Exoplanets

NASA Finds Super-Hot Planet With Unique Comet-Like Tail

Toshiba to sell launch first 3D TV without glasses: report

US grants licenses for radar equipment sales to Taiwan

Amazon says new Kindle a best seller

Nokia and Intel launch joint research lab

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement