"Vesta and Ceres, the two largest objects in the asteroid belt, have mystified scientists for centuries. With NASA satellite Dawn on final approach to Vesta, the wait is almost over."
CSmonitor- After four years and 1.7 billion miles – including two swings around the sun – NASA's Dawn spacecraft is on final approach to Vesta, an object expected to provide an unprecedented glimpse into the early years of the solar system.
Dawn, with its futuristic ion-drive engine, is just over 100,000 miles from its target – closing in at the stately pace of about 260 miles an hour, relative to Vesta's orbital speed.
The craft is scheduled to take up its orbit July 16 and spend a year at Vesta. Then it heads for a year-long visit to Ceres, slated to begin in 2015, said Robert Mase, Dawn's project manager, during a final-approach briefing Thursday.
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NASA's Dawn satellite has reached the asteroid belt. First stop: Vesta.
Note: Welcome to my thoughts. With Asteroid MD 2011 on it's approach towards Earth, people in South America, Australia, New Zealand, etc., will get a glimpse of the house-sized asteroid, as it hopefully swings past Antarctica at a mere 7500 miles distant.
Everyone be sure to hold your breath on Monday, June 27, 2011, at 1:00 p.m. EDT. That's when MD 2011 will either swing on past or make a "pit stop".
You know, I love exploring. I started out as a child, exploring the universe or at least my tiny corner of it and I am still doing so today, many, many years later. You don't need to know how many.
Exploration is good. Seeking new truths, finding something no one else has ever seen before... totally exhilarating. However, don't you think that at least part of that 1.7 billion dollars could be spent on finding a way to steer errant asteroids and other space bodies away from Earth?