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Dawn Takes First Pictures of Vesta From Orbit

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the sightings-of-minbari-cruisers-unconfirmed dept.

NASA 54

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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first post (-1, Offtopic)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#36815682)

yay!

Now the important question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36815810)

Now the important question: can this take a picture of Wiener's wiener?

Re:Now the important question: (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816078)

I don't know for sure, but we can probably ask "Dawn". It seems it has become sentient.

From TFA: "We can't wait for Dawn to peel back the layers of time and reveal the early history of our solar system," said Dawn.

Re:Now the important question: (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 3 years ago | (#36818002)

Har har. Nice truncation on the sentence there.

Re:first post (0)

jojoba_oil (1071932) | more than 2 years ago | (#36815812)

yay!

Did you really have nothing to say about this story? Nothing at all?

Come on, at least make a joke about the similarity of name "Vesta" to "Vista", and then continue about how the hardware requirements of it can only be described as "proto-planetary". If you're going to waste everyone's time, make it worthwhile.

Re:first post (2)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816042)

If I had thought about it that long I wouldn't have been first post though.

Re:first post (1, Insightful)

jojoba_oil (1071932) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816190)

The next post came 4 minutes later. Even if we assume that you posted at xx:26:59, and they posted at xx:30:00, that still gave you 3 full minutes to be the first poster.

Would it really take you longer than 3 minutes to post something that displayed a little more intelligence than that of a potted plant?

u mad ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36817634)

sounds like someone is pissed they didn't get f1rst ps0t ! :3

keep trying !

Re:u mad ? (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 3 years ago | (#36818374)

Thas right, they mad and they be hatin'. And they be scorin' me at -1.

Re:first post (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816650)

I thought Vesta was a brand of curry.

Mr Blurrycam (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36815762)

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?

Re:Mr Blurrycam (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#36815920)

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.

Huge Improvement And More To Come (4, Informative)

Iskender (1040286) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

oblig Louis CK (4, Funny)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#36817268)

"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?""

Re:Huge Improvement And More To Come (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#36851660)

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 first results look like crap).

Re:Mr Blurrycam (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 3 years ago | (#36819686)

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?

Re:Mr Blurrycam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36822012)

Well you can attack those cameras to some pretty high powered telescopes.. So.. sharp?

Re:Mr Blurrycam (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#36817228)

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 suggests why craters of the sizes seen can be that steep.
 

Actual pictures? (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Penal colony! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36815780)

They should turn Vesta into a Penal Colony, and the first convict should be Rupert Murdoch...

After careful analysis (4, Funny)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 2 years ago | (#36815894)

Scientists have concluded that it looks like a big rock.

Interesting pic (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 2 years ago | (#36815936)

Looks like a big lizard head to me...

Re:Interesting pic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36815974)

Looks like a hardened dill dough.

How come? (1)

brim4brim (2343300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816002)

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...

Oblig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36816016)

That's no moon!

Someone help me out. (3, Insightful)

rindeee (530084) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Someone help me out. (4, Informative)

AdmiralAl (1136661) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816266)

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.

Re:Someone help me out. (1)

Jarnin (925269) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816566)

Don't worry, it's supposed to get a lot closer before it takes off for Ceres.

Re:Someone help me out. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36816914)

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 rebel outpost ;)

Re:Someone help me out. (1)

rune.w (720113) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816984)

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]

From the article... (1)

kcwebmonkey (1351779) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816088)

"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!

Re:From the article... (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816114)

Chinese astronauts maybe.

Re:From the article... (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816314)

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.

The money quote. . . (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816822)

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.

Vesta Project Abandoned... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36816100)

...In favour of Wendows 7.

Re:Vesta Project Abandoned... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36816346)

So you ran software names after this rock? Even Potato was a batter OS.

whats next? (1)

lemur3 (997863) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816130)

ok we're in a standard orbit...isn't this the point where we send down the away team?

Amazing... (4, Interesting)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 2 years ago | (#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...

Re:Amazing... (1)

nofx_3 (40519) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816298)

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

space probes are great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36816960)

For a few hundred million, you can send a space probe with several sophisticated instruments to survey the heck out of an entire planet, asteroid, etc. Have the scientists spend several more years analyzing the data, and come up with more questions to probe. Build another space probe. If the probe breaks, build another one.

The manned space program should die! If there was no Apollo moon project, all that money could have been put into government bonds and the interest could have more than financed the small space probes over the last few decades. I'd rather have several more decades of space probes.

Re:space probes are great (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36819092)

The government pays the interest on government bonds, so investing government money in government bonds would be a remarkably pointless exercise.

Re:Amazing... (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#36817398)

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.

Re:Amazing... (1)

Bram Stolk (24781) | more than 2 years ago | (#36817452)

>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

Re:Amazing... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#36817834)

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."

Re:Amazing... (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 3 years ago | (#36817894)

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.

Re:Amazing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36818156)

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.

Because the algorithm to make moment-to-moment adjustments is on board the device, and in continuous operation. Like cruise-control on a car - you adjust the speed every time the speed limit changes, but apart from that that the algorithm handles the speed tracking.

Gosh! It looks so... (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816326)

...asteroidy!

Looks like... (1)

slapout (93640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36816610)

Looks like a small moon

Re:Looks like... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36816704)

>Looks like a small moon

That's no moon....

Where was Tony Orlando? (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#36817182)

n/t

Re:Where was Tony Orlando? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36818068)

Too old, dude. Too old. But perfectly in character with your 5-digit /. id.

I see a face in the hillock! (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#36817256)

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.

OMG - It's a sad face (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36818866)

Don't let Richard C. Hoagland see this!

Pirate Bay flag observed on last pass (1)

strangluv2 (1050350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36820784)

latest OS posted, Asteroid.
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