Dawn Completes Primary Mission on Asteroid Day

This false-color rendering highlights differences in surface materials at Ceres, one of the targets of the Dawn mission. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA)
This false-color rendering highlights differences in surface materials at Ceres, one of the targets of the Dawn mission. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCAL/MPS/DLR/IDA)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — On June 30, just in time for the global celebration known as Asteroid Day, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft completes its primary mission. The mission exceeded all expectations originally set for its exploration of protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.

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Planetary Resources, Bayer Sign MOU on Space Data

Ceres constellation (Credit: Planetary Resources)
Ceres constellation (Credit: Planetary Resources)

MONHEIM, Germany, May 31, 2016 (Bayer/Planetary Resources PR) – Bayer and the aerospace technology company Planetary Resources, based in Redmond, Washington, USA, have signed a memorandum of understanding about the development of applications and products based on satellite images. Bayer intends to purchase these data from Planetary Resources to create new agricultural products and improve existing ones. The collaboration will be part of the Digital Farming Initiative at Bayer (www.digitalfarming.bayer.com). Financial details were not disclosed.

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Planetary Resources Announces $21.1 Million Funding Round For Sat Constellation

Ceres constellation (Credit: Planetary Resources)
Ceres constellation (Credit: Planetary Resources)

REDMOND, Wash.,  May 26, 2016 (Planetary Resources PR) – Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, announced today that it has secured US$21.1 million in Series A funding. The capital will be used to deploy and operate Ceres, an advanced Earth observation business that features the first commercial infrared and hyperspectral sensor platform to better understand and manage humanity’s natural resources.

The funding was led by Bryan Johnson and the OS FUND; and joined by Idea Bulb Ventures; Tencent; Vast Ventures; Grishin Robotics; Conversion Capital; The Seraph Group; Space Angels Network, a syndication of investors from Angel.co; and Larry Page. Earth observation will be another aspect of Planetary Resources’ operations in addition to prospecting and mining asteroids.

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Planetary Resources Shelves Arkyd Space Selfies Due to Lack of Funding

Arkyd-3 satellite (Credit: Planetary Resources)
Arkyd-3 satellite (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources sent out the following cancellation and refund message today has been sent to supporters of its ARKYD Kickstarter. The campaign raised money so people could send pictures of themselves into space that would be displayed with Earth in the background.

According to the message, Planetary Resources was only going to launch the satellite if it got other people to give them even more money to fly the mission. That funding was which was not forthcoming from the multiple billionaires that back Planetary Resources (Larry Page, Eric Schmidt and Richard Branson among them) or anyone else the company targeted for funding.

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Dawn Program Honored With Two Prestigious Awards

Dawn spacecraft (Credit: NASA)
Dawn spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Dawn project team recently earned two prestigious awards, honoring its successful mission to giant asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.

On March 8, the Dawn project team was chosen to receive the prestigious National Aeronautic Association Robert J. Collier Trophy.

On March 11, the Dawn project team was honored with the National Space Club and Foundation’s Nelson P. Jackson Award, presented annually for “a significant contribution to the missile, aircraft or space field.”

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Dawn Program Team Receives 2015 Collier Trophy

Artist's concept of Dawn above Ceres around the time it was captured into orbit by the dwarf planet in early March. Since its arrival, the spacecraft turned around to point the blue glow of its ion engine in the opposite direction. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Artist’s concept of Dawn above Ceres around the time it was captured into orbit by the dwarf planet in early March. Since its arrival, the spacecraft turned around to point the blue glow of its ion engine in the opposite direction. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

WASHINGTON, DC, March 9, 2016 (NAA PR) – The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced last evening at their Spring Awards Dinner that the NASA/JPL Dawn Program Team has been named as the recipient of the 2015 Robert J. Collier Trophy “In recognition of the extraordinary achievements of orbiting and exploring protoplanet Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, and advancing the nation’s technological capabilities in pioneering new frontiers in space travel.”

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New Horizons, New Shepard & Dawn Project Teams Vying for Collier Trophy

NASA’s New Horizons captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of Charon just before closest approach on July 14, 2015. (Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)
NASA’s New Horizons captured this high-resolution enhanced color view of Charon just before closest approach on July 14, 2015. (Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

Washington, DC, February 2, 2016 (NAA PR) – The National Aeronautic Association announced today that nine aerospace projects and accomplishments will compete for the 2015 Robert J. Collier Trophy.

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Take a Flight Over Dwarf Planet Ceres

Video Caption: Take a flight over dwarf planet Ceres in this video made with images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. The simulated flyover was made by the mission’s camera team at Germany’s national aeronautics and space research center (DLR).

NASA Year in Review

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2015, NASA explored the expanse of our solar system and beyond, and the complex processes of our home planet, while also advancing the technologies for our journey to Mars, and new aviation systems as the agency reached new milestones aboard the International Space Station.

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Dawn Enters Orbit Around Ceres

Dawn_change_of_addressPASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has become the first mission to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet. The spacecraft was approximately 38,000 miles (61,000) kilometers from Ceres when it was captured by the dwarf planet’s gravity at about 4:39 a.m. PST (7:39 a.m. EST) Friday.

Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California received a signal from the spacecraft at 5:36 a.m. PST (8:36 a.m. EST) that Dawn was healthy and thrusting with its ion engine, the indicator Dawn had entered orbit as planned.

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Dawn Closes in on Ceres

This image is one several images NASA's Dawn spacecraft took on approach to Ceres on Feb. 4, 2015 at a distance of about 90,000 miles (145,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet. (Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)
This image is one several images NASA’s Dawn spacecraft took on approach to Ceres on Feb. 4, 2015 at a distance of about 90,000 miles (145,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

NASA Mission Update

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, on approach to dwarf planet Ceres, has acquired its latest and closest-yet snapshot of this mysterious world.

At a resolution of 8.5 miles (14 kilometers) per pixel, the pictures represent the sharpest images to date of Ceres.

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A Video Look Dawn’s Innovative Ion Propulsion System

Video Caption: Ion propulsion isn’t something found only in science fiction. JPL engineer Mike Meacham looks at how ion engines are being used to drive NASA’s Dawn spacecraft through the solar system. Dawn is approaching dwarf planet Ceres in the main asteroid belt with arrival expected in March 2015. Previously, Dawn orbited Vesta, the second-largest body in the asteroid belt. Learn how ion propulsion works and why it’s the reason Dawn will be the first spacecraft ever to orbit two solar system bodies beyond Earth. More about Dawn at: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/

The Year Ahead in Space

The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

Update: Added Falcon Heavy flight test to the list.

A number of very cool space missions are set to unfold in the coming year. Here’s a brief rundown:

Jan. 6: Falcon 9 Barge Landing Attempt. SpaceX will attempt to land the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on a barge. The goal is to recover the stage intact for later relaunch. Success could lead to significantly lower launch costs in the years ahead.

March 5: Dawn Arrives at Ceres. Having completed an exploration of the asteroid Vesta, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is due to arrive at the dwarf planet Ceres on March 5. The vehicle will enter orbit around the unexplored world, which is the largest object in the Asteroid Belt.

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