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1 1 of 11 08/02/ :04 PM Article LOS ANGELES, California (Achieve3000, May 1, 2012). Vesta is stepping into the spotlight. Thanks to NASA's Dawn spacecraft, scientists now have the first close-up pictures of the massive asteroid, and they're seeing some unexpected details. Of course, scientists have been studying objects in space planets, comets, and the sun for decades. But asteroids are different. Like planets, they revolve around the sun. Rocky and airless, asteroids are called "small" because they are not large enough to be considered planets. However, asteroids range in size from hundreds of miles wide, down to the size of a grain of sand. Asteroids are of interest to researchers because they are very old, dating back to the early Solar System. Vesta, currently about 117 million miles from Earth, is the secondlargest resident of the main asteroid belt, a massive ring between Mars and Jupiter filled with hundreds of thousands of space rocks. The doughnut-shaped belt formed around the same time and under similar conditions as Earth. Photo credit: AP/NASA/JPL This is a photo of the asteroid Vesta. The picture was captured by the Dawn spacecraft at a distance of 3,200 miles. Dawn is spending a year orbiting Vesta. Unlike comets, asteroids do not have tails. Asteroids do pass close to Earth on occasion. They even hit Earth's atmosphere about once a year (but burn up before reaching Earth's surface). On extremely rare occasions, fragments of asteroids do hit planets. Long ago, pieces of Vesta itself are believed to have pelted Earth, and the scars of that event are still evident on Vesta's surface. A giant crater dominates the asteroid's southern section. The crater is the result of a collision that sent meteorites, or broken off pieces of asteroids, to Earth. Vesta's northern side is filled with older craters, including a trio that scientists have nicknamed the "Snowman." Running along the asteroid's equator are deep grooves. These features come as a surprise to scientists. "We're seeing quite a varied surface," said chief scientist Christopher Russell. Vesta is "so rich in features" that it will keep scientists busy for years, said Holger Sierks. Sierks helps operate the camera that beams the incredible surface details to Earth. The up-close images that are delighting researchers were taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Dawn was launched in It began orbiting Vesta on June 16, 2011, after a 1.7 billion-mile cruise. Since entering orbit around the asteroid, Dawn has taken hundreds of pictures. The probe has been inching ever closer to Vesta's surface to get a better view. Dawn was expected to get as close as 110 miles from Vesta during its orbit. In 2012, Dawn was set to move on to Ceres, another of the asteroid belt's largest members. Unlike dry and rocky Vesta, Ceres is icy and may have frost-covered poles, like Earth. Because Ceres is more like a planet than its neighbors in the asteroid belt, NASA now classifies it as a dwarf planet, rather than an asteroid. Dawn is the first mission to explore Vesta and Ceres. They are the two largest members of the

2 2 of 11 08/02/ :04 PM asteroid belt. The $466 million project was conceived many years ago. Since then, the U.S. has made plans to send astronauts to an asteroid by The data gathered by Dawn should help with those future manned missions. In the meantime, the images that Dawn beams back to Earth are helping scientists learn more about the Solar System's earliest days. Members of the public can share in some of the delight researchers have experienced by visiting the Dawn "Image of the Day" gallery on the NASA Web site. NASA shares one picture per day from the mission. The Associated Press contributed to this story. Dictionary classify (verb) collision (noun) dominate (verb) to put into groups when two things hit each other to have or take a commanding, controlling position probe (noun) a spaceship carrying tools to study something in space Activity PAGE 1 1. What is this article mainly about? The U.S. has made plans to send astronauts to an asteroid by the year 2025, and data gathered by Dawn will be useful in those missions. People can view images of the asteroid Vesta by visiting the Dawn "Image of the Day" gallery on the NASA Web site. Although it is unusual, fragments of asteroids can hit Earth, and scientists believe that parts of Vesta landed on Earth many years ago. NASA's Dawn spacecraft captured close-up photos of the asteroid Vesta, and scientists were delighted by the unexpected details. 2.

3 3 of 11 08/02/ :04 PM According to the article, why are researchers especially interested in asteroids? Asteroids are some of the oldest things in the Solar System. Asteroids can be as small as a grain of sand or hundreds of miles across. Asteroid fragments almost never land on the surface of Earth. Asteroids often run into or are hit by other rocks in an asteroid belt. 3. To classify something as a planet or an asteroid would require. Posting photos on a Web site Finding unexpected details Writing a report for school Taking measurements 4. Based on the article, the reader can predict that. Pieces of Vesta will pelt Earth in the year 2025, and NASA will send a new satellite to Vesta to take photos. Scientists and researchers will separate small and large asteroids into two categories and rename them accordingly. NASA will decide not to send Dawn to Ceres, since NASA now classifies Ceres as a dwarf planet, not an asteroid. Many people will visit the Dawn "Image of the Day" gallery on NASA's Web site to view the images of Vesta. 5. Suppose Tori wanted to learn more about asteroids. She would find most of her information. In a NASA report about manned missions in the 1990s

4 4 of 11 08/02/ :04 PM In a film about the largest planets in the Solar System On a Web site about the beginning of the Solar System At a speech given by a NASA astronaut about a photo gallery 6. Which two words from the article are the closest antonyms? Image and picture Crater and equator Dwarf and massive Orbit and mission 7. Which of these is a statement of opinion? Naming an asteroid as a dwarf planet complicates our understanding of the Solar System. Dawn was the first mission to explore the two largest members of the main asteroid belt. Scientists say that Ceres is more like a planet than other asteroids in the main asteroid belt. Asteroids revolve around the sun, yet they are too small to be considered planets. 8. Which question is not answered by the article? How is the mass of an asteroid measured? How much did NASA spend to send Dawn into space? How many miles are between Earth and Vesta? How are asteroids and planets different?

5 5 of 11 08/02/ :04 PM Poll Now that you have read the article, indicate whether you agree or disagree with this statement. It is important to study far-away places in space. Agree Disagree Thought Question Explain whether or not you think "Dawn" is a good name for the NASA spacecraft discussed in the article. Suggest another name. Then, explain why you think your new name is appropriate. Type your answer in the text box below. Poll Results OPINION STATEMENT: It is important to study far-away places in space. Before Reading After Reading HOW YOU VOTED Agree Disagree Agree Disagree NATIONAL RESULTS

6 6 of 11 08/02/ :04 PM Agree 50% Agree 90% Disagree 50% Disagree 10% Math PAGE 1 1. The radius of an asteroid is 163 miles. A spacecraft orbits 420 miles above the surface of the asteroid. What is the distance the spacecraft travels in a single orbit of the asteroid? Round your answer to the nearest mile and use 3.14 for π. C = πd where C is the circumference of a circle, π is about 3.14, and d is diameter 2,637 miles 1,614 miles

7 7 of 11 08/02/ :04 PM 3,661 miles 1,831 miles Stretch Article LOS ANGELES, California (Achieve3000, May 1, 2012). Vesta is stepping into the spotlight. Thanks to NASA's Dawn spacecraft, scientists now have the first close-up pictures of the massive asteroid, and they're seeing some unexpected details. Of course, scientists have been studying objects in space planets, comets, and the sun for decades, but asteroids are different. Like planets, they are celestial bodies that revolve around the sun. Rocky and airless, asteroids are called "small" because they are not large enough to be considered planets. However, asteroids range in size from hundreds of miles wide, down to the size of a grain of sand, and they are of interest to researchers because they are very old, dating back to the early Solar System. Vesta, currently about 117 million miles from Earth, is the secondlargest resident of the main asteroid belt a massive doughnutshaped ring between Mars and Jupiter filled with hundreds of thousands of space rocks that formed around the same time and under similar conditions as Earth. Photo credit: AP/NASA/JPL This is a photo of the asteroid Vesta. The picture was captured by the Dawn spacecraft at a distance of 3,200 miles. Dawn is spending a year orbiting Vesta. Unlike comets, asteroids do not have tails, but they do pass close to Earth on occasion, and they even hit Earth's atmosphere about once a year (but burn up before reaching Earth's surface). On extremely rare occasions, fragments of asteroids do hit planets. Eons ago, pieces of Vesta itself are believed to have pelted Earth, and the scars of that event are still evident on Vesta's surface. A giant crater dominates the asteroid's southern section. It is the result of a collision that sent meteorites, or broken off pieces of asteroids, to Earth. Vesta's northern side is filled with older craters, including a trio that scientists have nicknamed the "Snowman." Running along the asteroid's equator are deep grooves. These features come as a surprise to scientists. "We're seeing quite a varied surface," said chief scientist Christopher Russell. Vesta is "so rich in features" that it will keep scientists busy for years, said Holger Sierks, who helps operate the camera that beams the incredible surface details to Earth. The up-close images that are delighting researchers were taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Dawn,

8 8 of 11 08/02/ :04 PM which was launched in 2007, began orbiting Vesta on June 16, 2011, after a 1.7 billion-mile cruise. Since entering orbit around the asteroid, Dawn has taken hundreds of pictures. The probe has been inching ever closer to Vesta's surface to get a better view. Dawn was expected to get as close as 110 miles from Vesta during its orbit. In 2012, Dawn was set to move on to Ceres, another of the asteroid belt's largest members. Unlike dry and rocky Vesta, Ceres is icy and may have frost-covered poles, like Earth. Because Ceres is more like a planet than its neighbors in the asteroid belt, NASA now classifies it as a dwarf planet, rather than an asteroid. Dawn is the first mission to explore Vesta and Ceres, the two largest members of the asteroid belt. The $466 million project was conceived many years ago. Since then, the U.S. has made plans to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 the data gathered by Dawn should help with those future manned missions. In the meantime, the images that Dawn beams back to Earth are helping scientists learn more about the Solar System's earliest days. Members of the public can share in some of the delight researchers have experienced by visiting the Dawn "Image of the Day" gallery on the NASA Web site, where NASA shares one picture per day from the mission. The Associated Press contributed to this story. Dictionary celestial (adjective) having to do with the sky or outer space eon (noun) a very long or indefinite period Stretch Activity PAGE 1 1. What is this article mainly about? People can share in the delight of scientists and view images of the asteroid Vesta by visiting the Dawn "Image of the Day" gallery on the NASA Web site. Although it is rare, fragments of asteroids can hit Earth, and scientists believe that parts of Vesta landed on Earth eons ago. NASA's Dawn spacecraft captured close-up photos of the asteroid Vesta, one of the largest members

9 9 of 11 08/02/ :04 PM of the main asteroid belt, and scientists were delighted by the unexpected details. The U.S. has made plans to send astronauts to an asteroid by the year 2025, and data gathered by a spacecraft will be useful in those missions. 2. What cause-and-effect relationship is described in this article? Because asteroid fragments have hit Earth on extremely rare occasions, researchers are delighted by the pictures of the asteroid Vesta. Because asteroids can have a variety of large craters on their surfaces, scientists expect humans to be able to land on one by the year Because asteroids are very old, dating back to the formation of the Solar System, researchers are especially interested in studying them. Because asteroids can range in size from the size of a grain of sand to hundreds of miles across, they are sometimes considered dwarf planets. 3. A celestial body is something that is found. In the far reaches of space On a high mountaintop In a large body of water On the surface of Earth 4. Based on the article, the reader can predict that. Pieces of Vesta will pelt Earth in the year 2025, and NASA will send a new satellite to Vesta to take photos of the craters that result. Scientists and researchers will separate small and large asteroids into two categories and rename them accordingly. NASA will decide not to send Dawn on its scheduled mission to Ceres, since NASA now classifies Ceres as a dwarf planet, not an asteroid. Many people will visit the Dawn "Image of the Day" gallery on NASA's Web site to view the

10 10 of 11 08/02/ :04 PM images of Vesta and share in the delight of the unexpected findings. 5. Suppose Sarah wants to learn more about a variety of asteroids. She would find most of her information. On NASA's Web site under the topic "Past Manned Missions" On NASA's Web site on the Dawn "Image of the Day" page In a TV documentary about the classification of dwarf planets In a research book about the formation of the Solar System 6. The article states: A giant crater dominates the asteroid's southern section. It is the result of a collision that sent meteorites, or broken off pieces of asteroids, to Earth. Which would be the closest synonym for the word collision? Escapade Deluge Transaction Impact 7. Which of these is a statement of opinion? Scientists say that the dwarf planet Ceres is icy and may have frost-covered poles, like Earth. Rocky and airless, asteroids are called "small" because they are not large enough to be considered planets. The millions of dollars set aside for a mission to study asteroids could be put to better use. Dawn was the first mission to explore Vesta and Ceres, the two largest members of an asteroid belt.

11 11 of 11 08/02/ :04 PM 8. Which information is not in the article? The year by which scientists hope to send humans to an asteroid The cost of the project to send the Dawn satellite into space The distance between the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres The distance in miles between Earth and the asteroid Vesta

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