Dawn Community Contributions > Dawn Stories
I am intensely interested in the design of the Dawn Spacecraft ion drive. I have a story.
I am 56 years old and in 7th grade, I won a design contest in Science class for designing a spacecraft. I remember the first and second (maybe a third) stage typical Saturn V stuff. But I made the final stage with solar panels propelled by .....Ion Drive! I heard about this technology for the World Book Science Year for the previous year. The Science teacher told me there were only four instructors at the Junior High that even knew what Ion Drive WAS!
So, in many ways, you folks are getting to do what I dreamed about so many years ago. I wish you all the best of luck, and I'm following your progress.
My wife, Kim, and I hosted our private Vesta Fiesta in our neighborhood club house where we had ample space for displays and decorations, not to mention a lake front view and swimming pool access. Kim prepared a feast of chicken fajitas, black beans, and sweet and sour slaw kept tasty to the last minute in multiple slow-cookers.
I welcomed each attendee with a stick-on Dawn Mission logo and adhesive name tag. Tovah and Lucijan, two of our guests, presented Kim and I with t-shirts onto which the Dawn Mission logo decal had been transferred. I duplicated the information at the table settings in single fact sheets for people to read while eating. The Dawn Mission goodie packet provided additional educational opportunities. The souvenir refrigerator magnets and bookmarks made for great giveaways. I also gave out glow-in-the-dark chemically activated bracelets and necklaces, purchased at a local dollar store, for guests to wear for a festive flair.
For twenty dollars I purchased an inflatable scale model mobile of the solar system and suspended it across the 60-foot long party room- very effective. I wrapped my belt around one of the supporting posts that separated Mars and Jupiter to represent the position of the main "asteroid belt." During my presentation, I emphasized the potential commercial applications of the geological and mineralogical studies being conducted at Vesta and Ceres. For example, on the prospect of mining asteroids, I told them this basic science mission would likely be a precursor to the next Gold (rare earth minerals) Rush, in the not too distant future. The Vesta Fiesta provided an entertaining venue for guests to learn about NASA's valuable endeavors outside of the high profile manned missions.