Vesta, Brightest Asteroid, Shines Extra Bright This Month

If you’ve never seen an asteroid, now’s the time. Asteroid 4 Vesta — the “4” stands for the 4th asteroid discovered — will shine brighter this season than it has for years and for years to come. The 329-mile-wide ball of rock orbit the in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter at an…
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Dawn To Peer At Ceres From Just 30 Miles Up

Dawn’s going down. The spacecraft, which has been orbiting Ceres since March 2015, will maneuver to its final and lowest orbit ever to take incredibly detailed photos and compositional measurements of the dwarf planet. As you read this, NASA engineers are firing Dawn’s ion engine to lower the probe into a snug loop less than…
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Asteroid Vesta At Its Best — Here’s How To See It

Lately, I’ve talked about how to find planets, but there are lots of other planet-like bodies in the night sky — the asteroids. As of March 2016, we know of 1.3 million of them, 750,000 of which have calculated orbits. The name asteroid comes from “aster,” Latin for star, and it perfectly describes their star-like…
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Dawn Spacecraft May Visit A Secret Destination

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbited Vesta for 14 months in 2011 and 2012, and then departed for Ceres, where it’s orbited since March 2015. This week, Dawn’s been taking stereo views of the dwarf planet’s terrain from just 233 miles (375 kilometers) up or about 20 miles lower than the altitude of the International Space Station. Dawn’s dual-asteroid mission…
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Pieces Of Vesta Pelt Eastern Turkey

Call it a surprise visit from Vesta. On September 2, 2015, NASA satellites detected a meteoroid entering the atmosphere with a diameter of approximately 20 inches (50 cm) that broke up at an altitude of about 25 miles (40 km) over several villages in eastern Turkey. After a bright flash and detonations, stones came raining…
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