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Well, I suppose that's a bit silly, what with Ceres being billions of years old. But on January 1, 1801, Giuseppe Piazzi discovered this little world - what has become classified as a "dwarf planet" (like Pluto). Ceres is quite dynamic for an asteroid, with a crust, mantle, and core, and is bigger than the largest moons in the Solar System; these factors made it a target for a mission to Ceres. Here's an awesome animated image of Ceres courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope:

Click the image to see the story. Click here to go to the offical NASA Dawn mission site.

NASA's Dawn mission launched December 17 and will rendezvous in 2015. An interesting feature of the Dawn spacecraft is its ion engine, which will thrust continuously for the next four years. Hey, it's like science fiction! Cool stuff!




( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 2nd, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)
I saw an ion engine being test-fired, specifically a Hall-effect thruster. I wrote about it here. That's not something you get to see every day!

You should have posted the Ceres article on the actual anniversary of its discovery. I suppose you can back-date it, but that risks making people lose track of it.

Jan. 2nd, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC)
So cool! What a great trip that was.

Yeah, I didn't post much during the holidays, because I expect most people were away from their computers. I'm tempted to do a jaylake "weekend reacharound" and make a cumulative post after a weekend or holiday.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )