Animation of Ground-track of the Dawn Spacecraft During the Survey Orbit
This animation shows the ground-track of the Dawn spacecraft during the Survey phase of the mission. The underlying image is a synthetic picture and does not represent Vesta’s real topography. Just like the Earth, Vesta’s spin axis is tilted with respect to the plane of its orbit around the Sun, which results in shadow shown in grey. Each red frame represents the camera footprint taken at the time shown in the movie. Green frames represent all the previous camera footprints up to the time shown in the movie. A camera footprint represents the actual area that Dawn’s framing camera sees from orbit (5.5 degree field-of-view). Solid blue lines represent the ground track, i.e., sub-Dawn point. The camera footprints are shown only when Dawn is in the day side of Vesta. When the Dawn spacecraft is in the night side, the camera footprint is represented as a point. Note that the actual camera footprint is always square. The non-square shape is due the projection of the camera footprint onto Vesta surface. This animation is only an approximate representation and should only be used for illustrating aspects of the Dawn mission.
The Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. It is a project of the Discovery Program managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., designed and built the Dawn spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are part of the mission team.
For more information about Dawn, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/dawn.