News from Dawn's Science Team

Dr. Rhian Jones demonstrates the scanning electron micrscope.
Combination of Hubble Space Telescope image of Vesta (top) and a cool composite image of Vesta's landscape from framing camera images (below).Image credit: NASA/JPLCaltech/UCLA/MPS/ DLR/IDA

December 15, 2011 - SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- Before last July, Vesta was only a series of modest images brought to us by the Hubble Space telescope, enough to tantalize and inspire the Dawn mission, but essentially an unexplored new world in our solar system.

Five months and thousands of images and other data downloads later, Dawn's science team is rising from intense work analyzing all the new information gathered during the survey and high altitude mapping orbits.

At the American Geophysical Union Meeting this month, Principal Investigator Chris Russell led a series of presentations from members of the Dawn science team and from the science community at large. Each told a different part of Vesta's story, taking data from Dawn's payload of instruments and interpreting from his or her unique perspective and expertise. The international science community pondered science team findings relating to the early results about the mineral composition, topography, and geomorphology of Vesta.

What next? The team takes all those distinctive stories about aspects of Vesta and digs deeper into the details until it can weave them into one large story of this newly explored world. The Dawn team's exciting work has just begun!

How can you stay tuned?

  • Watch the videos of Dawn's sessions at the American Geophysical Union meeting on December 6, 2011.