Public Lecture: Asteroids Ceres and Vesta Up Close: the Dawn Spacecraft Mission

Public Lecture hosted by the St. Louis Astronomical Society

Friday, October 19, 2018, 7:30-9:00PM

Room 162 McDonnell Hall, Washington University in St. Louis

Abstract:  Asteroids are small bodies of rock and metal that orbit the Sun. Most lie between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, but some have elliptical paths that can cross Earth’s orbit.  At 583 miles across, the largest asteroid, Ceres, was discovered in 1801. The second largest, Vesta was found six years later. Although they lie in the same region of our solar system, Ceres and Vesta are quite different. Ground-based telescopes reveal few surface and composition details. NASA’s Dawn robot spacecraft, launched in 2007, provided the first close-up views.  First it traveled to Vesta, where it orbited the asteroid in 2011 and 2012. Then it moved on to Ceres, arriving in March 2015. It is now concluding its Ceres observations. Xiaochen Mao will present a brief history of the discovery of Vesta and Ceres, comment on the scientific merit of the Dawn Mission, and, discuss some of the major discoveries made by Dawn’s telescopes and instruments.


Guest lecturer:  Xiaochen Mao, PhD Candidate, Washington University in St. Louis, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences  


Call for Research Papers: Meteoritics & Planetary Science (MAPS) - Special Issue in honor of Dr. Christine Floss

Papers are solicited for a Special Issue of Meteoritics & Planetary Science dedicated to the memory of Dr. Christine Floss and organized around the general theme of “Understanding our solar system history through In-situ micro- and nano-analysis of extraterrestrial materials”.


For over 30 years, Dr. Christine Floss analyzed the isotopic and elemental compositions of macro- to submicroscopic components in extraterrestrial materials using coordinated in-situ ion microprobe (IMS-3f and NanoSIMS 50) and electron microscopy (SEM, Auger Nanoprobe and FIB-TEM) techniques to better understand secondary processes (e.g., thermal metamorphism, aqueous alteration) during the early history of our solar system. Christine worked on a wide range of planetary samples, from meteorites, micrometeorites and interplanetary dust particles to returned samples from NASA Apollo, Stardust and Genesis missions. She was also one of the experts on the identification and characterization of circumstellar and protosolar components in these materials, in particular presolar silicate grains, to investigate their abundances and origins.



Manuscripts that focus on current and critical issues related to Christine’s broad research interest will be considered for this Special Issue. 

The review process of manuscripts for this Special Issue will be overseen by MAPS chief-editor A J Timothy Jull, MAPS Associate Editor Alexander Ruzicka, and guest editor Larry Nittler. All manuscripts will undergo the normal MAPS review processes.


Special Issue Proposers: Pierre Haenecour and Maitrayee Bose.



Deadline for submission: December 31, 2018 



All the guidelines for manuscript preparation and submission are posted on:

In Step-6 of the submission process, please select “Christine Floss issue” in the Special Issue section.