Dawn moves closer to the asteroid belt

Sep 12, 2007

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been positioned at Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 17B atop a Delta II rocket for its launch from Florida later this month.

The spacecraft was moved to the launch pad Tuesday in preparation for its more than 3.2 billion-mile odyssey into the heart of the asteroid belt. The launch window opens Sept. 26.

"From here, the only way to go is up," said Dawn project manager Keyur Patel of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Dawn's goal is to characterize the cosmology of the solar system's earliest epoch 4.5 billion years ago by investigating the massive asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres, both of which are in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Scientists theorize Vesta and Ceres were budding planets that followed different evolutionary paths during the solar system's first few million years. By investigating two diverse asteroids during its eight-year flight, the Dawn mission is expected to resolve some of the mysteries of planetary formation.

Dawn is designed to be the first spacecraft to orbit an object in the asteroid belt and the first to orbit two bodies after leaving Earth.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Beastly sunspot amazes, heightens eclipse excitement

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Microsoft CEO launches diversity training effort

45 minutes ago

(AP)—Microsoft's CEO is continuing to try to repair damage caused by his gaffe last week at a women-in-computing conference. CEO Satya Nadella on Thursday sent a memo to staff saying all employees at Microsoft will receive ...

'Red effect' sparks interest in female monkeys

2 hours ago

Recent studies showed that the color red tends increase our attraction toward others, feelings of jealousy, and even reaction times. Now, new research shows that female monkeys also respond to the color red, ...

Recommended for you

Beastly sunspot amazes, heightens eclipse excitement

2 hours ago

That's one big, black blemish on the Sun today! Rarely have we been witness to such an enormous sunspot. Lifting the #14 welder's glass to my eyes this morning I about jumped back and bumped into the garage.

The formation and development of desert dunes on Titan

3 hours ago

Combining climate models and observations of the surface of Titan from the Cassini probe, a team from the AIM Astrophysics Laboratory (CNRS / CEA / Paris Diderot University) , in collaboration with researchers ...

'Eau de comet' is a bit of a stinker

4 hours ago

Rotten eggs, horse pee, alcohol and bitter almonds: this is the bouquet of odours you would smell if a comet in deep space could be brought back to Earth, European scientists said on Thursday.

User comments : 0