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Dawn Mission Exhibit Featured At New Mexico Museum

Press Release From: Planetary Science Institute
Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2017

PSI Senior Scientist Thomas Prettyman created an exhibit about NASA’s Dawn mission that is now on display at the New Mexico Museum of History and Science (NMMNHS) in Albuquerque.

Today, Sept. 27, is the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Dawn spacecraft. During its journey through the Solar System, Dawn traveled to and explored the largest objects in the main asteroid belt, Ceres and Vesta. The main belt, which is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, preserves a record of events that occurred as planets began to form 4.6 billion years ago.  The data and images acquired by Dawn transformed these ancient bodies from fuzzy patches of light into geologic worlds. 

The exhibit, developed and curated by Prettyman, includes photographs, maps and 3-D images to provide a spectacular, up-close look at Vesta and Ceres. Large, detailed wall panels tell the story of how the Solar System formed and highlight key features of the main asteroid belt. The exhibit includes a scale model of the Dawn spacecraft as well as a description of its innovative ion propulsion system.

The exhibit also includes meteorites provided by the University of New Mexico’s (UNM) Institute of Meteoritics. The exhibit explains the connection between meteorites (rocks that fell from the sky) and Vesta, Ceres, and other main belt asteroids.

“I’m delighted that we had the opportunity to present Dawn results at the museum and to offer the public a chance to learn about this fascinating mission,” said Prettyman, who is a Dawn co-investigator and lead for the Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND) instrument.

“The exhibit offers residents of Albuquerque, as well as visitors from around the southwest, the opportunity to experience the Dawn mission,” said Prettyman, who also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico.

Naoyuki Yamashita, a Senior Scientist at PSI and Dawn Associate, Jayne Aubele, Larry Crumpler, Jim Greenhouse of the NMMNHS and Carl Agee of UNM contributed their expertise to the exhibit.

PSI scientists have been active in the Dawn mission.

The Dawn exhibit at the NMMHS can be viewed by all visitors to the museum and will be on display for the next year.  The museum is located in the Old Town area of Albuquerque, a short drive from the airport.

Visit  www.psi.edu/news/nmdawn for a photo of the Dawn exhibit at NMMNHS.

The museum is located at 1801 Mountain Road NW in Albuquerque. Visit http://www.nmnaturalhistory.org/ for more information on the museum and visit http://www.nmnaturalhistory.org/exhibits/temporary-exhibits/mission-asteroid-belt for information on the Dawn exhibit.

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