NASA’s Dawn Mission will be the first to orbit a main belt asteroid, doing a detailed and extensiv...
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Artist’s concept of the Dawn spacecraft (NASA) PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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NASA’s Dawn Mission will be the first to orbit a main belt asteroid, doing a detailed and extensive study of the two largest asteroids Ceres and Vesta Scientists will study their surface features and gain insights on their internal structure. Artist’s concept of the Dawn spacecraft (NASA).

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Artist’s concept of the Dawn spacecraft (NASA)

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Artist s concept of the dawn spacecraft nasa

NASA’s Dawn Mission will be the first to orbit a main belt asteroid, doing a detailed and extensive study of the two largest asteroids Ceres and Vesta

Scientists will study their surface features and gain insights on their internal structure

Artist’s concept of the Dawn spacecraft (NASA)


Artist s concept of the dawn spacecraft nasa

Dawn is scheduled for launch on September 27th at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on a Delta II 7925H launch vehicle

With a Mars gravity assist in February 2009, it will arrive at Vesta in October 2011

It will depart Vesta in May 2012 and arrive at Ceres in August 2015

The end of the mission is planned for January 2016


Artist s concept of the dawn spacecraft nasa

The instruments aboard

the spacecraft are:

A visible camera and an infrared mappingspectrometer to reveal surface minerals

A gamma ray andneutron spectrometer to determine the elements that make up the asteroids

The spacecraft will also measure the gravity field of each asteroid

NASA technicians install the instruments

aboard the Dawn spacecraft


Artist s concept of the dawn spacecraft nasa

Dawn’s ion propulsion system allows it to undertake a mission that would have been unaffordable using other technologies

Two large solar panels stretching 19.7 meters (65 feet) from tip to tip harness the Sun’s energy and power the ion engines

The energy ionizes the onboard fuel (xenon), accelerates the ions, which in turn accelerate the spacecraft

Dawn spacecraft shown with

Ceres (right) and Vesta (left)

in an artist’s image


Artist s concept of the dawn spacecraft nasa

These asteroids were chosen because they are two contrasting planetesimals—Ceres is wet and icy and may have subsurface water. Vesta is dry and rocky and may have been formed by volcanoes

Ceres is about 950 km in diameter and Vesta is about 530 km in diameter

Both bodies formed early in the history of the solar system

Hubble Telescope images of

Ceres (top) and Vesta (bottom)


Artist s concept of the dawn spacecraft nasa

Exploring a new frontier, Dawn will journey “back in time,” so to speak, over 4.5 billion years to the beginning of our solar system

Many thousands of bodies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter formed at the same time and in similar environments as the rocky planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars)


Artist s concept of the dawn spacecraft nasa

Scientists theorize that asteroids were budding planets that were never given the chance to grow due to the gravitational effects of Jupiter

By investigating these two asteroids, Dawn hopes to unlock some of the mysteries of planetary formation: the conditions and the building blocks under which they were formed


Artist s concept of the dawn spacecraft nasa

Dawn will also contrast the formation and evolution of these two small planetesimals that followed very different evolutionary paths so we can understand what controls that evolution

This can help us in our observation of exoplanets in other planetary systems

Artist’s concept of Dawn spacecraft (NASA)


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