NASA's Dawn spacecraft has returned an impressive snap of Vesta, as it prepares to enter orbit around the asteroid belt object. Dawn's snap of Vesta. Pic: NASA Snapped at an intimate 26,000 miles (41,000 kilometres), the image offers a tantalising glimpse of the second-largest object orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Only …
It's a trap!
Once the spacecraft is near enough, an enormous door will open and mechanized space snake will lunge at the poor NASA junk, crushing it instantly.
They will then put it down to "software malfunction" or an "incident during the hypergol pressurization procedure" to keep the people in the dark.
Somebody has been watching way too many 1950' or 1960's B-grade sci-fi movies.
See Star Wars.
although depending on your opinion, this might fit the B Grade description (I think they were good, and that Ja Ja arse face/ new the new films were an abomination)
Would make a nice spaceport.
Actually, a more likely hazard than space snakes is leftover debris from past impacts in orbit around Vesta. Orbital speeds around that body are fairly low because it is small, but getting hit by a random rock is not good for any spacecraft. More interesting, if it's cameras find something larger than gravel in orbit around Vesta, it could possibly nose up to it for a closer look. It cannot land on Vesta itself because it's engine thrust (10 grams at 1 g) is much less than it's weight on the surface (27.5 kg). While the engine thrust is miniscule, it can run almost continuously and with no friction in space it adds up to 6 m/s (22 km/hr) per day. Thus time to spiral down to a low orbit is about 2 weeks, and time to depart again will be another two weeks.
"It cannot land on Vesta itself because its engine thrust (10 grams at 1g) is much less than its weight on the surface (27.5kg)."
Actually, there's no problem at all about landing on Vesta. It just wouldn't be possible to take off again.
On a more serious note - it is quite jaw-dropping that in a year's time, we'll have some pretty serious maps of Vesta - a small lump of rock less than a third of the diameter of the Moon, a hundred and seventeen million miles away.
I wonder if there will be any sign of the Silver Queen?
From one goddess to another,
"So much for your virginal status", quoth Eos (Dawn)
Re: there's no problem at all about landing on Vesta
so you'd attempt a landing on a surface where local gravity gives your craft a weight of 2750 Newtons* but your main engine is only capable of 0.1N* of thrust?
To land at say 0mph (locally stationary) you'd need an engine capable of equalling the local gravitatonal attraction... or ~27,500 times more powerful.
I'd hazard it would hit Vesta with a fair old thump (i.e. a crippling impact) if it attempted a landing.
* I've revised the weight and thrust figures to appropriate units of force (newtons) from the units of mass (grams) at a rate of 10N/kg (approx the acceleration due to gravity at the earhth's surface) ... as I consider this the appropriate rate, and it's easier maths than 9.8N/Kg
I'll get me coat cos I'm obviously taking it too seriously
If Major Clanger and the Soup Dragon fail to make an appearance, I will feel sorely cheated.
Google "The Clangers" if you are a completely mystified non-Brit unaware of the truth about life beyond Earth.
Humans need to explore
Isn't exploration wonderful?
It's a pity that we're happy to spend lots of money on putting people into low Earth orbit, while exploration of our solar system is given peanuts by comparison. I guess what exploration needs is political or military motivation of the sort that funded the Shuttle and ISS.
Imagine the images we might get from orbiters and landers on Io, for example, assuming the radiation problem can be solved.
Doesn't this picture seem a bit out of focus?
Left over bits
If NASA look really closely at Vesta's surface they should see it's part number.
This is obviously a piece god failed to use when assembling his "Contstruct-O-Verse" kit.
Weighing in kilometres?
Well that's an unusual choice of unit if I ever saw one.
Why not use the Reg standard unit for mass, which I believe is the Jub?
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