Dawn Spacecraft Officially Retired by NASA

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Just a few days after announcing that the Kepler Space Telescope has been retired, NASA released another press release, noting that the well-known Dawn Spacecraft, used for asteroid exploration, has also been retired as it ran out of fuel.

The first signs appeared in June and engineers decided to guide the spacecraft towards the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn will continue to drift in Cere’s orbit for at least twenty years. The spacecraft failed two check-ins as it was unable to shift towards the sun in order to gather energy from its solar panels and communicate with Earth.

NASA launched Dawn back in September 2007 and the launch took place at the iconic Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The aim of the ship was to survey two out of the three protoplanets of the asteroid belt, namely Vesta and Ceres. Dawn holds multiple records as it was the first spacecraft to explore two planets, the first ship that reached Ceres and Vesta and the first spacecraft that visited a dwarf planet.

It managed to reach Vesta after almost four years and it spent 14 months on a planetary survey before it moved on towards Ceres and reaching it in March 2015. NASA researchers theorized that they could try to reach a third target. Diminishing fuel reserves ultimately led to the abandonment of further exploration and they decided to focus on Ceres until the fuel ran out completely.

The project was managed by the Jet propulsion Laboratory and European space agencies contributed with parts. What made the mission so successful was the use of an experimental ion propulsion drive, which allowed the ship to enter and leave the orbit of the celestial bodies at will. Conventional drives have limited previous missions as entering the orbit prevented any escape and in order to avoid issues they only did close flybys.

NASA also noted that he spacecraft performed exemplary and it collected valuable information that will be useful for a long time.

 

Just a few days after announcing that the Kepler Space Telescope has been retired, NASA released another press release, noting that the well-known Dawn Spacecraft, used for asteroid exploration, has also been retired as it ran out of fuel.

The first signs appeared in June and engineers decided to guide the spacecraft towards the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn will continue to drift in Cere’s orbit for at least twenty years. The spacecraft failed two check-ins as it was unable to shift towards the sun in order to gather energy from its solar panels and communicate with Earth.

NASA launched Dawn back in September 2007 and the launch took place at the iconic Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

The aim of the ship was to survey two out of the three protoplanets of the asteroid belt, namely Vesta and Ceres. Dawn holds multiple records as it was the first spacecraft to explore two planets, the first ship that reached Ceres and Vesta and the first spacecraft that visited a dwarf planet.

It managed to reach Vesta after almost four years and it spent 14 months on a planetary survey before it moved on towards Ceres and reaching it in March 2015. NASA researchers theorized that they could try to reach a third target. Diminishing fuel reserves ultimately led to the abandonment of further exploration and they decided to focus on Ceres until the fuel ran out completely.

The project was managed by the Jet propulsion Laboratory and European space agencies contributed with parts. What made the mission so successful was the use of an experimental ion propulsion drive, which allowed the ship to enter and leave the orbit of the celestial bodies at will. Conventional drives have limited previous missions as entering the orbit prevented any escape and in order to avoid issues they only did close flybys.

NASA also noted that he spacecraft performed exemplary and it collected valuable information that will be useful for a long time.

Patrick Supernaw

Patrick Supernaw is the lead editor for Great Lakes Ledger. Patrick has written for many publications including The Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. Patrick is based in Ottawa and covers issues affecting his city. In addition to his severe hockey addiction, Pat also enjoys kayaking and can often be found paddling the Rideau Canal. Contact Pat here