Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dawn's Dance Into Vesta Orbit

Dawn's Smooth Move - NASA Science:

"When a NASA spacecraft goes into orbit around a new world for the first time, the control room is usually packed to capacity with scientists, engineers, and dignitaries ready to leap and shout when the retro-rockets fire. It's a big, noisy event.
July 15, 2011, was one of those days. NASA's Dawn spacecraft approached Vesta and became the first probe from Earth to orbit a main belt asteroid. Dawn's cameras revealed a desolate world of transcendent beauty, thrilling everyone who worked on the project.
Needless to say, the control room was .... silent?
'Actually it was empty,' says Dawn Chief Engineer Marc Rayman of JPL. 'Dawn entered orbit on a Friday night; I myself was out dancing with my wife and friends.'"