Dwarf Planets and Asteroids

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Astrogeology is currently supporting three missions that have visited asteroids: Dawn, Rosetta, and Hayabusa.  The Dawn mission is the current NASA spacecraft in the asteroid belt, and is currently en route to the largest asteroid in the Main Asteroid Belt, the dwarf planet Ceres, after studying the second largest asteroid, 4 Vesta.  Astrogeology supports Dawn with the Integrated Software for Imagers and Spectrometers (ISIS) software, participation on the science team, and dealing with issues related to the coordinate systems of asteroids, many of which cannot be well described with the spherical geometry that underpins centuries of cartography.  An area of emphasis for Astrogeology staff is combining visible and spectroscopic data to understand the distribution of different materials on the surface of 4 Vesta. 
Astrogeology is developing software to create maps from  multispectral and hyperspectral images acquired from the Rosetta (European Space Agency) and Hayabusa (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) missions. Astrogeology plans to provide software and cartographic support to the New Horizons mission (currently en route to Pluto) and the planned OSIRIS-Rex mission designed to visit a near-Earth carbonaceous asteroid, land, and return a sample to Earth.


Author Name
Randolph Kirk
Author Email