Match point

Back in Autumn 2007, NASA launched its Dawn probe as a gift to writers of the double-entendre wherever in the world English is spoken and the Carry-On films enjoyed.  Its rather more than five year mission is unlikely to find any new worlds or civilisations but will take it around a couple of the solar system’s larger asteroids (ooh-er, missus).

Dawn is not the nippiest of satellites, it can apparently manage 0-60mph in 4 days – so you wouldn’t want to try overtaking on a busy A-road using its ion drive.  However, unlike a harder-accelerating family hatchback it can keep accelerating for a very long time to achieve seriously high velocities (easily exceeding 10,000 mph for the patient driver).

It has now slowed down to an A-road friendly relative velocity and is surveying its first target: Vesta.   It has been sending back splendid black and white shots of this asteroid, which have been raising some questions in the astronomy community.  Vesta has a large ‘crater’ at one end and some rather serious scratch-marks around the middle – and no-one seems to know why.

Well, I believe I can answer this question: surely it was where Vesta was struck against the box?  Any Swan could tell you that!


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