Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Journey to an Asteroid Continued

The least expensive missions receive the least publicity. On June 20 the DAWN spacecraft is scheduled for launch. This low-cost mission that was nearly cancelled before being reinstated less than a year ago. DAWN will use an ion propulsion system as used on the Deep Space One mission. The spacecraft will flyby Mars in March '009, arrive at asteroid Vesta in October 2011 and depart in April 2012. For the climax, DAWN will rendezvous with Ceres from February to July 2015. Remember, visiting an asteroid takes less energy than landing on the Moon.

This mission will begin a new age of asteroid exploration. Vesta and Ceres may tell us about the formation of the solar system. Here it is predicted that they are not just big rocks. The asteroids could harbour water, internal heat, and possibly conditions for life.

These are truly new worlds about which little is known. When you consider the many asteroids, moon and Kuiper Belt Objects, our solar system contains HUNDREDS of unexplored worlds. Like the Little Prince's Planet, even tiny worlds can contain surprises. Exploration of asteroids and comets may literally save the Earth.


Blogger mark said...

It is exciting.

And the allusion to the little Prince quite nice!

5:02 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

A pleasure hearing from you, Mark of Indifferent Eye. You will also enjoy the December 5 post, Thinking of a Prince. That week I was blogging from atop one of our Hawaiian volcanoes.

11:03 AM  
Blogger mark said...

Louise (if I may call you so): I did enjoy the December 5 post. And surprised not to be sucked in to that little black hole. And Nigel's comment made me dizzy.

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