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7 Sep 2011
GSA Release No. 11-56
Contacts:
Christa Stratton
Director - GSA Communications & Marketing
+1-303-357-1093


David A. Williams
School of Earth and Space Exploration
Arizona State University
NASA Dawn Mission
Associate Investigator
Planetary Geology Division Chair
The Geological Society of America

+1-480-965-7029

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NASA's Dawn Mission at Vesta: Press Conference Announcement

2011 Annual Meeting of The Geological Society of America

In conjunction with the 2011 Annual Meeting and Exhibition of the Geological Society of America (GSA), scientists from NASA's Dawn Mission to the asteroid Vesta will present their latest findings at a press briefing to be held at 12:00 noon (CDT) on Wednesday, 12 October 2011, in the Minneapolis Convention Center. Media representatives are cordially invited to attend the press briefing as well as technical sessions at the meeting.

Launched 27 September 2007, Dawn reached Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in our solar system, on 16 July 2011, becoming the first probe ever to enter orbit around an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and the first NASA mission set to orbit two major targets in space. Dawn is also only the second scientific mission to be powered by an advanced NASA technology known as ion propulsion, which made the project far more affordable than it would have been using a more conventional propulsion system.

Dawn will gather high resolution data to map the surface of Vesta from increasingly closer orbits through summer 2012, when it will head off to explore a second protoplanet, Ceres, where it is scheduled to arrive in 2015. The study of these two distinct bodies is expected to shed light on the conditions and processes of the solar system's earliest epoch and help unravel the mysteries of planetary formation.

Learn more about the Dawn mission.

Speakers will present earliest mission findings and answer questions from the media.  The briefing follows technical session 217, "Dawn at Vesta: Initial Results from the Survey Orbit," which will run from 8–11:15 a.m. on Wednesday morning in room L100H-J of the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Session 217 abstracts

Panel

Carol Raymond, Deputy Principal Investigator, NASA Dawn Mission, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., will be the lead speaker and moderator. Raymond will give an introduction to the Dawn mission and an overview of Vesta's shape, gravity, and topography.

Paul Schenk, Participating Scientist, NASA Dawn Mission, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, Tex., will discuss findings relative to the south polar impact feature, which has been seen through the Hubble Space Telescope.

Debra Buczkowski, Participating Scientist, NASA Dawn Mission, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, Md., will cover troughs on the asteroid's surface, their locations, and hypotheses on their origins.

Federico Tosi, VIR Team Member, NASA Dawn Mission, INAF (Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica), IFSI (Istituto di Fisica dello Spazio Interplanetario), Rome, Italy, will cover the mineralogy of Vesta as it is known from visible and infrared spectrometer (VIR) data.

What: NASA's Dawn Mission at Vesta -- press briefing
When: Wednesday, 12 October 2011; 12-1:00 p.m.
Where: Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
A light lunch will be available for registered members of the media.

Further information, including the room number for the briefing and details for accessing the press briefing online from remote locations, will be available closer to the meeting date in the online meeting newsroom, in the press room at the start of the meeting on 9 Oct. 2011, or by contacting Christa Stratton at the address above.

Press room facilities will be available for the duration of the conference in room #207AB--from 7:30 am on Sunday, 9 October through 1 pm on Wednesday, 12 October. The venue has a wireless network. Pressroom phone number during hours of operation is +1-612-335-6672.

Registration is free for bona fide media delegates (see eligibility requirements). Contact Christa Stratton at the address above for more information. Advance registration is encouraged, but not required.

Also of interest:

GSA's Planetary Geology Division will celebrate its 30th Anniversary with a special session, titled "Then and Now: The Past 30 Years of Solar System Exploration."

Simon Kattenhorn, University of Idaho, and David Williams, Arizona State University, are co-conveners. This session will provide a retrospective on the major advances in understanding the geologic histories of planets and moons over the past 30 years. Papers describe the history of solar system exploration in this time frame with emphasis on characterizing planetary surfaces and unraveling the geologic processes and histories that have resulted in the astounding geologic diversity of our solar system.
Special Session abstracts

Detailed scientific program information and schedule
Complete meeting details

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The Geological Society of America, founded in 1888, is a scientific society with more than 24,000 members from academia, government, and industry in more than 95 countries. Through its meetings, publications, and programs, GSA enhances the professional growth of its members and promotes the geosciences in the service of humankind. Headquartered in Boulder, Colorado, USA, GSA encourages cooperative research among earth, life, planetary, and social scientists, fosters public dialogue on geoscience issues, and supports all levels of earth science education.

www.geosociety.org

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