Updated July 29, 2015
Professor Christopher Russell of the UCLA Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics testified before Congress on Tuesday, July 28, about his work with NASA’s Dawn Mission, which he leads. He appeared before the Congressional Committee on Science and Technology at the hearing, “Exploration of the Solar System: From Mercury to Pluto and Beyond.”
A mission in NASA’s Space Discovery program, the Dawn Mission orbited the explored the giant protoplanet Vesta in 2011-12. Dawn is currently in orbit and exploring a second new world, dwarf planet Ceres, the largest asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. Russell and his team are in charge of Dawn’s scientific research — with the lead role in analyzing and interpreting data from the space craft — and public outreach. Earlier this summer, the researchers released new images of Ceres, which Dawn is currently exploring from 2,700 miles above its surface. NASA has also produced a one-minute video animation that sheds new light on this mysterious and heavily cratered world.
In 2014, Russell’s team received the Trophy for Current Achievement, the National Air and Space Museum’s highest honor in the fields of aerospace science and technology.