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Latest Marc Rayman Stories

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2011-07-07 14:44:49

By Dauna Coulter - Science@NASA July 6, 2011: NASA's Dawn spacecraft is closing in on Vesta, and from now until the ion-powered spacecraft goes into orbit in mid-July, every picture of the giant asteroid will be the best one ever taken. What will researchers do with this unprecedented clarity? "For starters," says Dawn chief engineer Marc Rayman, "we're going to look for an asteroid moon." You might think of asteroids as isolated bodies tumbling alone through space, but it's entirely possible...

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2011-04-08 10:47:58

After 3 and a half years of thrusting silently through the void, NASA's Dawn spacecraft is on the threshold of a new world. It's deep in the asteroid belt, less than 4 months from giant asteroid Vesta. "We're closing in," says Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer and mission manager. "And I'm getting more excited every day!" Dawn will enter orbit around Vesta in July 2011, becoming the first spacecraft ever to orbit a body in the asteroid belt. After conducting a detailed study of the uncharted...

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2010-08-20 13:35:00

Let the countdown begin. NASA's Dawn spacecraft is less than one year away from giant asteroid Vesta.  "There's nothing more exciting than revealing an unexplored, alien world," says Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Vesta," he predicts, "is going to amaze us." Dawn is slated to enter orbit around Vesta in late July 2011. As the first breathtaking images are beamed back to Earth, researchers will quickly combine them into a movie, allowing us all to...

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2010-06-30 08:21:16

Engineers are studying the reaction wheels on NASA's Dawn spacecraft after automatic sensors detected excess friction building up in one of them and powered it off early on the morning of June 17, 2010. Reaction wheels spin to help a spacecraft maintain attitude control, and Dawn, which is exploring the asteroid belt, uses three wheels in normal operations. The three other reaction wheels are functioning normally. Mission managers said plans for Dawn to visit the asteroid Vesta in 2011 and...

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2010-05-05 06:35:00

"Standard orbit, Mr. Sulu." Captain Kirk barks out the order with such confidence. He knows the USS Enterprise can slip in and out of planetary orbits with ease. But it's only easy in the realm of science fiction. In the real world, such maneuvers have been impossible --until now. Enter Dawn, NASA's cutting edge mission to the asteroid belt. Powered with a futuristic sounding new technology called "ion propulsion," this spacecraft will perform space moves rivaling those of the Enterprise. At...

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2009-02-12 18:45:00

Launched in September of 2007, and propelled by any one of a trio of hyper-efficient ion engines, NASA's Dawn spacecraft passed the orbit of Mars last summer. At that time, the asteroid belt (where Dawn's two targets, asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres reside), had never been closer. In early July the spacecraft began to lose altitude, falling back towards the inner solar system. Then on October 31, 2008, after 270 days of almost continuous thrusting, the ion drive turned off. "Not...

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2007-09-27 08:30:00

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA's Dawn spacecraft rocketed away Thursday toward an unprecedented double encounter in the asteroid belt. Scientists hope the mission sheds light on the early solar system by exploring the two largest bodies in the belt between Mars and Jupiter: an asteroid named Vesta and a dwarf planet the size of Texas named Ceres. Dawn's mission is the world's first attempt to journey to a celestial body and orbit it, then travel to another and circle it as well. Ion-propulsion...

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2005-03-10 11:30:00

It's called Dawn, and in a little more than a year, this spacecraft will blast off from Florida, bound for two separate asteroids: Vesta and Ceres. Visiting the two most massive asteroids in our Solar System will be an ambitious undertaking; maybe one of the most difficult and dangerous orbital missions attempted. Dawn will bring a suite of scientific instruments to these two asteroids and serve as a time machine to help scientists understand what our Solar System looked like 4.6 billion...