Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The DAWN mission is on the way to Ceres and Herschel Telescope Detects Water on the Dwarf Planet

In science fiction we rocket to the stars or bend space to get to places faster than the speed of light.
Closer to home SciFi has us living on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
We have missions to the asteroid belt to send water bearing asteroids to the inner planets.

Today we have to do things a bit slower and so far we don't have humans on asteroid missions.
Pioneer 10 and 11 went through the asteroid belt and didn't get smash to bits.
Then Voyager 1 and 2 did the same but they also went on their way out of the Solar system.

We have begun to explore some of our asteroids with spacecraft and the data they provide is beginning to give us first hand information about these nearby neighbors.
It still takes us years to get to them so we have to be persistent and wait.  

The DAWN mission is helping us by visiting more than one of these bodies.
And space telescopes like Herschel can give us information from afar.
- LRK -

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Dawn, Mission to the Asteroids Vesta & Ceres 2007 NASA JPL Leonard Nimoy 720 HD
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ION engines are going to help take us to different destinations.
- LRK -

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NASA's Dawn Mission:

Opening Up Asteroids to Space Settlement?

Testing a new ion thruster in uncharted space may be the main mission, but observers see potential beyond just exploring the Asteroid Belt.

Dawn Rising: Leaving the clouds behind, the Delta II rocket carrying the Dawn spacecraft arced through the blue sky over the Atlantic Ocean. Liftoff was from Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Dawn is the ninth mission in NASA's Discovery Program. It is also NASA's first purely scientific mission powered by three solar electric ion propulsion engines. Image Credit: NASA/George Shelton.

By Charles Q. Choi
The asteroids may be minor planets, but they are often thought of as only barren rocks tumbling around the Sun. But soon scientists hope asteroids will be seen for what they really are: worlds that, like their larger brethren, could one day help support life.
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The DAWN mission.  The ION engine allows for going into orbit around its target. 
Refresh yourself with the Wikipedia story of the start and stops of this mission.
I think Orbital Sciences Corporation deserves a high five hand for their efforts.
- LRK -

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Dawn is a space probe launched by NASA on September 27, 2007, to study the two most massive objects of the asteroid belt– the protoplanet Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres. Currently en route to Ceres and scheduled and expected to arrive in February 2015,[2][5] Dawn was the first spacecraft to visit Vesta, entering orbit on July 16, 2011.[6][7] Should its mission succeed, it will also be the first spacecraft to visit Ceres and to orbit two separate extraterrestrial bodies.[8]
The mission is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, though European partners from the NetherlandsItaly and Germany contributed major components. It is the first NASA exploratory mission to use ion propulsion to enter orbits; previous multi-target missions using conventional drives, such as the Voyager program, were restricted to flybys.[4]
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The JPL DAWN web site.  Many topics covered.
- LRK -
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DAWN A journey to the Beginning of the Solar Systems.
Welcome to the Dawn Mission!

Dawn delves into the unknown, drives new technology innovations, and achieves what's never been attempted before. As a mission belonging to NASA’s Discovery Program. Dawn has orbited one member of the main asteroid belt, Vesta, and is now heading to explore a second new world, dwarf planet Ceres.
Dawn's goal is to characterize the conditions and processes of its earliest history by investigating in detail two of the largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formation. Ceres and Vesta reside in the main asteroid belt, the extensive region between Mars and Jupiter, along with many other smaller bodies. Each followed a very different evolutionary path, constrained by the diversity of processes that operated during the first few million years of solar system evolution. When Dawn visits Ceres and Vesta, the spacecraft steps us back in solar system time.
- See more at: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/#sthash.Q4wF2bOj.dpuf
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DAWN should get to Ceres in the spring of 2015 and help follow up on the recent Herschel Telescope announcement about finding of water vapor there.
- LRK -

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http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2014-020
Herschel Telescope Detects Water on Dwarf Planet
January 22, 2014
Scientists using the Herschel space observatory have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt, Ceres.

Plumes of water vapor are thought to shoot up periodically from Ceres when portions of its icy surface warm slightly. Ceres is classified as a dwarf planet, a solar system body bigger than an asteroid and smaller than a planet.

Herschel is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission with important NASA contributions.
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Thanks for looking up with me. 
- LRK -
 
22 January 2014
ESA’s Herschel space observatory has discovered water vapour around Ceres, the first unambiguous detection of water vapour around an object in the asteroid belt.

With a diameter of 950 km, Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt, which lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. But unlike most asteroids, Ceres is almost spherical and belongs to the category of ‘dwarf planets’, which also includes Pluto.

It is thought that Ceres is layered, perhaps with a rocky core and an icy outer mantle. This is important, because the water-ice content of the asteroid belt has significant implications for our understanding of the evolution of the Solar System....
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Water Detected on Dwarf Planet Ceres

Jan. 22, 2014:  Scientists using the Herschel space observatory have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt, dwarf planet Ceres.

"This is the first time water vapor has been unequivocally detected on Ceres or any other object in the asteroid belt and provides proof that Ceres has an icy surface and an atmosphere," said Michael K├╝ppers of ESA in Spain, lead author of a paper in the journal Nature.

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WHAT THE MIND CAN CONCEIVE, AND BELIEVE, IT WILL ACHIEVE - LRK -

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