Casual Friday — getting into Vesta’s orbit

Asteroids are small, and so have very weak gravity — how do you get into orbit around one? With great delicacy, it seems — just the job for a spacecraft propelled by an ion engine. In July, the Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around Vesta, and it happened so gradually that most of the spacecraft’s controllers weren’t even at the office (direct link):

Make sure to check out the Dawn mission website periodically for the latest video and images from the spacecraft — like this fantastic red / green stereo pair (you’ll need 3D glasses for this one):

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