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!