back to article Asteroid hunter achieves Vesta orbit

NASA's Dawn spacecraft yesterday entered orbit around asteroid Vesta, in what the agency's head honcho Charles Bolden described as an "incredible exploration milestone". Vesta (pictured below) is the second-largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, with its 530 kilometre (330 mile) diameter bulk surpassed …


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  1. Yet Another Commentard

    Millennium 2.2

    Ahhh... reminds me of Millennium 2.2 and Deuteros. Send probes to the asteroids, then mine them for the minerals in short supply at home. Ian Bird, what a legend...

    Can I make a request for the nostalgic games article series?

    <wanders off to find his Amiga emulator>

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Only to find that....

    ...the asteroid is a battlestar of the Kyyurrrt Fleet from Yyyrt 6, in suspended animation.



  3. jugear

    Ctulhu f'tagn

    Maybe the Old Ones are not lying in wait at the bottom of the oceans... maybe they are living in a hollowed-out asteroid!

  4. Dennis Wilson


    I heard from a reliable source that they sent up a Reliant Robin, and the only reason it went into orbit was because it tipped over.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    remember the difference between "ore" and "dirt"

    This will be a chance to find out what one of these is really made of .

    Exciting times.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    "Posted in Law, 17th July 2011 12:18 GMT"

    Why "Law" and not, say, "Space"?

  7. jubtastic1


    What's the point in sending astronauts to a far flung rock, Wouldn't a robot be just as useful? Genuine question, seems a bloody long and dangerous journey just to look at a proto meteorite in it's natural habitat.

    1. Paul 25

      What astronauts?

      Umm, this *is* an unmanned probe.

      1. Joe 35

        "What astronauts"

        Read the story more carefully.

      2. Mako

        RE: What Astronauts?


        "...President Obama has directed NASA to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025, and Dawn is gathering crucial data that will inform that mission."

        I suspect that Jubtastic just might have been commenting on this bit of the article.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Eh?

      There's a record for the world's^H^H^H^H^H^H^HSolar System's longest golf drive to be had....

    3. Garve Scott-Lodge

      Why go?

      A hollowed out asteroid is almost certainly the most feasible way of creating a permanent off-earth habitat. Despite there being lots of technological and biological problems to solve, the asteroid belt could be the home to millions by the end of this millenium.

      The US won't be sending anyone there yet though - instead they'll be aiming for one of the stray lumps of rock which occasionally come close to earth. Finding out exactly what they're made of will help plan the peaceful expansion of the human race. It also might be handy in working out how to break chunks off and drop them on Moscow, Beijing or Tehran should the need ever come up.

  8. Richard Gadsden

    Smallest object we've ever got an orbit around

    I believe that Vesta is the smallest (ie lightest) object any human-made spacecraft has ever orbited.

    1. TelePom


      Can we go for "least massive"?

    2. Andus McCoatover


      Didn't NASA piss about with a comet recently? Think they're lighter...

    3. fch

      shirley the smallest ?!

      surely not - that claim goes to asteroid Itokawa and the Hayabusa spacecraft. By quite a few orders of magnitude.

      In the age of inflationary awards, Dawn/Vesta might have to go for some other title. It's not even NASA's "smallest orbited object" - the Near/Shoemaker mission to asteroid Eros would lay claims to that.

      I'm sure NASA will come up with a few previously unheard-of superlatives for Dawn, though.

      1. mr.K

        Hayabusa never entered orbit.

        Hayabusa never entered an orbit around Itokawa. It had too little mass for that. Instead Hayabusa just matched Itokawa's orbit around the sun.

        You are however right about the NEAR Shoemaker mission.

  9. Dave Murray

    Would have achieved orbit sooner but...

    it's made of vindaloo!

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Nah, the colour is all wrong

      for vindaloo. It looks more like some dreadful, congealed concoction made from whale blubber. Nutritious, no doubt, but it rest on the stomach like a lead bowling ball.

      Beer, because, well, in goes down well with vindaloo.

      1. laird cummings

        It's a giant space-haggis

        Which leads to the stomach-churning thought of Scotsmen in space-kilts.

        Mine's the plaid spacesuit.

  10. Peter Murphy


    Waiting for the Ceres flyby - it's been predicted that there's lots of water ice there, which makes it a great place for an outer space human base. I'd like to see if it's true. The problem with the Moon is that it lacks a lot of water, which makes it harder for habitation.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      The problem with the Moon...

      You'll run out of oxygen long before you're getting thirsty

      1. mr.K
        Paris Hilton


        Besides, the water is usually in the form of ice anyway. Who needs ice when they don't have a drink to put it in.

        What is the Paris Hilton angel btw?

  11. Matthew 17

    That's not a rock

    It's clearly a shot of a biscuit, NASA is lying to us yet again!

    1. maclovinz


      American Republicans....I kid, I kid.


  12. D. M

    sent human to asterroid, why?

    Is it better to send a sort of robotic mining ship better?

    What if we found out it was no moon, but a battle station? We really need a Death Star.

  13. John Sanders

    It is a rock Jim

    Just a big one.

    Hope they find something interesting, Vesta as an appetizer, Ceres in 2015, Pluto and Eris in 2016...

    Too sad no missions to Uranus and Neptune, specially Neptune & Triton fascinate me since I was a Kid. as a grown up I know now that Neptune is a gaseous icy world, but when I was a kid it fascinated me, it looked sort of like a giant earth with massive oceans and just a little lump of land.

    It is sad to have the certainty that with all the budget cuts I will probably die and no space ship will ever get there. It is simply too far.

  14. Dennis Wilson

    And the next step is...........

    If the past is anything to go by they will grab a dog or a chimp, hammer a USB lead into its head, put it into a rocket and connect it to laptop, then fire the rocket at the stupid thing.

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