Dawn Spacecraft’s Dwarf Planet Dance Improves Hubble’s Far-Away View
Vesta seen from the Earth-orbit based Hubble Space Telescope in 2007 (left) and up close with the Dawn spacecraft in 2011. Hubble Credit: NASA, ESA, and L. McFadden (University of Maryland). Dawn Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA. Photo Combination: Elizabeth Howell
The Hubble Space Telescope is one of the best observatories humanity has. It’s been operating for nearly 25 years in space, is still highly productive, and is a key element to mission planning for NASA as it sends spacecraft out into the Solar System. When the agency was getting ready to send Dawn to Vesta, for example, it took pictures to help with calibration.
Then Dawn got up close to the dwarf planet in 2011 and found a few surprises — liquid water that possibly flowed temporarily on the surface, for example. And as the spacecraft draws near to Ceres for a close encounter next year, it also will be looking for water — in the form of its atmosphere.
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