Author's Archive: Chris Russell

Chris Russell
Chris Russell
C. T. Russell is a professor in the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics and the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at University of California, Los Angeles. He is the head of the Space Physics Center in IGPP, UCLA and the Director of the UCLA Branch of the California Space Grant Consortium. He is the principal investigator of the Dawn mission to the asteroids Vesta and Ceres. "I think of Dawn as two journeys," says Russell, who proposed the mission to NASA. "One is a journey into space. This is analogous to what ancient explorers did . . . We're going to explore a region for the first time to find out what the conditions are today." Dawn's other journey will transport scientists back in time, so to speak, to the early solar system. "Ceres and Vesta have been altered much less than other bodies," Russell says. "The Earth is changing all the time. The Earth hides its history, but we believe that Ceres and Vesta, formed more than 4.6 billion years ago, have preserved their early record frozen into their ancient surfaces." Dr. Russell is also the principal investigator on the POLAR mission; a co-investigator on the magnetometer team on the Cassini mission to Saturn; the ROMAP investigation on the Rosetta mission to comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko; the IMPACT investigation on the STEREO mission to study solar and solar wind disturbances; the THEMIS mission to study substorms; and the magnetometer investigation on the Venus Express mission to study the solar wind interaction with Venus.


29 May

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

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1 Jan

Six of Dawn’s Top 2013

by Chris Russell

From our Principal Investigator, Chris Russell

As 2013 drew to a close, we asked the Dawn team to choose their top stories or news from the Dawn mission in 2013 and received some compelling responses. Over the next several weeks, more top choices will be coming your way. We are beginning with principal investigator Chris Russell’s perspective.

It is often hard to ascribe dates to projects that extend across year boundaries, but here are six great contributions from Dawn in 2013.

colorized image of Aelia crater

Assigning colors to different wavelengths of light revealed not only geological structures invisible to the naked eye, but landscapes of incomparable beauty. Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLAMPS/DLR/IDA

1. Dawn Objectives at Ceres
Plans were developed allowing Dawn to achieve all its level 1 objectives within its technical resources at Ceres and NASA agreed with these plans.
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2. Color Illuminates Vesta
Another important achievement in 2013 was the improvement in the color images from Dawn. The framing camera team assigned colors to different wavelengths of light and, in the process, revealed in unprecedented detail not only geological structures that are invisible to the naked eye, but also landscapes of incomparable beauty. Researchers at Max Planck led by Andreas Nathues can now see structures such as melts from impacts, craters buried by quakes and foreign material brought by space rocks.

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