Greetings From Berlin–Grüße aus Berlin!

by Chris Russell


The Dawn Team Converges at the German Aerospace Agency

The Dawn spacecraft moved back in solar system time when it cruised into the main asteroid belt, first orbiting protoplanet Vesta in 2011-12, and now on its way to dwarf planet Ceres, due in March 2015. When the Dawn team met in Berlin this month, it offered an opportunity for the mission to do a bit of its own time travel.

Dawn Team at the German Aerospace Agency, Berlin, 2014

fig 1: Dawn Team at the German Aerospace Agency, Berlin, 2014

The German Aerospace Agency in Berlin, commonly known by its German acronym, DLR, has been a significant force behind the formulation, implementation, execution, and science analysis of the Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres. A small team of Dawn scientists and engineers first visited DLR in Berlin in May 2001, collaborating in preparation for the submittal of the final proposal to NASA. This team is shown in Figure 2, below. Seated from left to right are co-investigator Tom McCord, and project manager Sarah Gavit. Standing behind them are co-investigator Ralf Jaumann of DLR, principal investigator Chris Russell, co-investigators Lucy McFadden, Stefano Mottola and Mark Sykes, and payload manager Jim Kenny.

Figure 2: Dawn Team readying for its final proposal, Berlin 2001

fig. 2: The original Dawn team, readying its final proposal submission, Berlin 2001

In May of 2014, a much larger team of Dawn scientists and engineers gathered at DLR to discuss the successful acquisition and analysis of data at Vesta and to plan for similar success at Ceres in the coming year. Those present decided to recreate the 2001 portrait in front of the original sculptural backdrop (moved from its original location and raised), Figure 3. In the front row in the second figure are co-investigator Carle Pieters (who received her Ph.D under Prof. McCord) and deputy principal investigator Carol Raymond. In the back row in their original positions are Drs. Jaumann, Russell, McFadden, Mottola, and Sykes, together with the Dawn mission director, Dr. Marc Rayman. Engineers Gavit and Kenny are no longer with the project, and co-investigator McCord was unable to attend this meeting but is still an active participant.


fig 3: Dawn team members together again, Berlin, 2014

The size of the Dawn team has grown significantly since selection for development in 2001. The opening photograph, Figure 1, shows the close to fifty participants who attended the Dawn Science Team meeting gathered in front of the DLR’s main building in Berlin in May 2014.

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