Archive for March, 2014


31 Mar
Marc Rayman
Marc Rayman
Chief Engineer/ Mission Director, JPL

Dawn Journal | March 31

by Marc Rayman

Dear Correspondawnts,

Powering its way through deep space, Dawn draws ever closer to dwarf planet Ceres. To reach its destination, the interplanetary spaceship gently reshapes its path around the sun with its extraordinary ion propulsion system. In about a year, the spacecraft will gracefully slip into orbit so it can begin to unveil the nature of the mysterious world of rock and ice, an intriguing protoplanetary remnant from the dawn of the solar system.

Even as Dawn ascends the solar system hill, climbing farther and farther from the sun, penetrating deeper into the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, its distance to Earth is shrinking. This behavior may be perplexing for readers with a geocentric bias, but to understand it, we can take a broader perspective.

Read the rest of this entry »


21 Mar

Space Inspired “Nerd Couture”

by Dawn Education & Communications
Two Dawn engineers showing off their nail art

Dawn mission-inspired nail art matches the spacecraft’s solar panels.

Dawn Rocks the Community

Two members of the Dawn mission have taken space exploration to a new level, combining space—and fashion. Meet Keri Bean and Kristina Larson. Keri is a member of Dawn’s science operations team and Kristina works for the spacecraft flight team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Their shared interest in “nerd couture” brought them together, as well as their obsession with space nail art. They like wearing fashionable clothing that also expresses their interests in space science and other “nerdy” topics. From space shuttle shoes to Dawn-inspired solar panel nails, they wear it all!

Keri Bean Dawn mission science operations, and Kristina Larson, Dawn spacecraft flight team

Keri Bean, Dawn mission science operations, and Kristina Larson, Dawn spacecraft flight team, sporting “nerd couture”

In her role in science planning and sequencing, Keri acts as the interface between different off-site science team members and the spacecraft operations team at JPL.  While an undergrad and grad student at Texas A&M University, Keri was on science teams for multiple Mars missions and now uses those skills in exploring the two largest bodies in the asteroid belt.

Kristina does similar work as part of the engineering operations team by planning and sequencing engineering activities, as well as sending commands to the spacecraft and testing them on the testbed.  She has interned on Dawn since her sophomore year at USC, where she got her undergrad and grad degrees in Aerospace Engineering. Kristina worked previously on a Mars rover as a Tactical Downlink Lead, planning activities for the rover and analyzing downlinked data.

Keri Bean and her space dress, accented by her Dawn Lego model!

Keri Bean and her space dress, accented by her Dawn Lego model!

They hope to continue to share their unique and quirky styles as well as glam ideas through the eyes of two young women and hopefully teach you about Dawn along the way—so stay tuned!