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NASA scientist to speak

NASA scientist Daniel F. Finnerty will talk about driving spacecraft at the regular meeting of the Nevada County Astronomers at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, in the community room of the Madelyn Helling Library​, 980 Helling Way, Nevada City. Driving spacecraft is a bit more challenging than an Indy 500 racer. Finnerty is the team chief of JPL’s Mission Planning and Sequencing Team , which is responsible for overseeing the planning and the commands sent to eight spacecraft missions (Dawn asteroid, Spitzer Infrared Space Telescope, JUNO Jupiter Orbiter, Mars Odyssey Orbiter, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Deep Comet Impact flyby). The meeting is open to the public and is free.

The Dawn mission is to the asteroid belt with flybys of the asteroids Vesta and Ceres to determine the composition and structure of these asteroids. Scientists hope to learn the geological, chemical and physical nature of two protoplanets, which could led to a better understanding of the formation of the present terrestrial planets. The Vesta mission has now been completed, and Dawn is on its way to Ceres and will arrive in early 2015.

For more on Dawn, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/dawn/main/index.html.


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