Posts Tagged ‘spacecraft’


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!


12 Jan
Marc Rayman
Marc Rayman
Chief Engineer/ Mission Director, JPL

Another Top Five: Dawn 2013

by Marc Rayman

From Our Chief Engineer

I was delighted to be asked to name my top five accomplishments for the Dawn mission in 2013. This is a very ambitious and exciting interplanetary adventure, exploring some of the last uncharted worlds in the inner solar system. Thanks to its advanced ion propulsion system, this is the only spacecraft ever targeted to orbit two extraterrestrial destinations, and it leaves behind a blue-green wisp of xenon ions as it blazes a unique trail in humankind’s efforts to know the cosmos.

2013 was an extremely successful year, and it is not easy to select only five accomplishments (especially for someone as enthusiastic and wordy as I am), but it also was gratifying to review the year. The specific activities in 2013 may not be as obviously spectacular as in some other years, in which the spacecraft left its home planet behind, swooped past Mars on its way to more distant places, maneuvered into orbit around a giant protoplanet, spiraled down to a daringly low altitude for astonishing views, or climbed away from a world it unveiled, breaking free of its gravity to journey elsewhere in the solar system. But the many accomplishments of 2013 are valuable and impressive, and it will be interesting to see what different members of the team choose for their top five. Here are mine:

Artist’s concept of NASA’s Dawn spacecraft at the giant asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.

Artist’s concept of Dawn thrusting with its ion engine over a view of the actual rugged surface of the giant protoplanet Vesta. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

1)     Delivery of large volumes of richly detailed observations of Vesta with the science camera, the gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer, and the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer to the repository used by the scientific community (the Planetary Data System, or PDS). We went to Vesta to collect these data, and now they are available for use by scientists (and the public) around the world for generations to come, ensuring there will continue to be many wonderful discoveries about this fascinating, complex protoplanet. (The gravity measurements will be available at the PDS in 2014.) For a summary of some of Dawn’s findings at Vesta, which is more closely related to Earth and the other terrestrial planets than to typical asteroids, see the January 2013 Dawn Journal.

Read the rest of this entry »