Feeds

Dawn probe slips Vesta's grip, heads for icy dwarf planet

Spacecraft exits orbit of virgin goddess, sets off on 3-year trip to Ceres

Build a business case: developing custom apps

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has left the gravitational pull of the giant asteroid Vesta behind after over a year of study and is rocketing towards the dwarf planet Ceres.

The satellite, launched in September 2007, has been exploring and mapping Vesta for the first time, showing agency boffins an exotic and diverse building block of planet that can help them figure out how our solar system was formed.

Dawn pulled away from Vesta easily and is now on its way to Ceres, our inner solar system's only dwarf planet and its largest asteroid. The spacecraft is expected to arrive in early 2015.

"As we respectfully say goodbye to Vesta and reflect on the amazing discoveries over the past year, we eagerly look forward to the next phase of our adventure at Ceres, where even more exciting discoveries await,” said Robert Mase, Dawn project manager, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Ceres is a rock-ice body around 950km in diameter, according to what boffins have been able to discover so far. They theorise that the dwarf may have active hydrological processes, giving it seasonal polar caps and/or a thin, permanent atmosphere that distinguishes it from other small planets, and Dawn has been sent to help test these theories.

Boffins also reckon that both Vesta and Ceres could have been budding planets that never got the chance to grow up because of the gravitational stirrings of Jupiter.

Dawn is the first spacecraft to orbit a body in the main asteroid belt and its mission is the first to orbit two targets. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.