Skip to content

The Dawn Probe—mission end

12 September 2018


Rear view of Dawn looking at the solar panels and the ion drive’s thrust exhaust below the communications dish—NASA art image

Dawn’s service will soon end as its hydrazine gas supply, required for its attitude thrusters, will become exhausted. Dawn had the remarkable mission of intercepting and mapping the two largest objects in the asteroid belt, which lies between Jupiter and Mars—unique in that not one but two extraterrestrial objects were objectives. The dwarf planet Ceres and minor planet Vestsa were imaged and mapped, both having sufficient masses to allow orbiting (using gravity as opposed to flying in formation which is done with low mass objects). Dawn’s fate is to be placed in high orbit about Ceres to avoid a crash landing there (and potential Earth contamination of Ceres), where it will remain for a very long time.

The Dawn Mission Patch—NASA art image

Artists’s impression of the Dawn’s ion engine thrust—NASA art image

Dawn approaching the dwarf planet Ceres—NASA art image

Artist’s impression of Dawn’s mission to map the dwarf planet, and largest object in the asteroid belt, Ceres (upper right) and minor planet Vesta which is also the second most massive object within the asteroid belt, as well as the ion drive engine—NASA art image

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: