Dawn Enters Asteroid Belt -- For Good

Nov 16, 2009
Artist's concept of Dawn. Image credit: NASA/JPL

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Dawn spacecraft re-entered our solar system's asteroid belt today, Nov. 13, and this time it will stay there.

Dawn first entered the belt (whose lower boundary may be defined as the greatest distance Mars gets from the sun (249,230,000 kilometers, or 154,864,000 miles) in June 2008. It remained within the belt for 40 days before its carefully planned orbital path brought it below the asteroid belt's lower boundary.

This time around, Dawn's flight path will remain above this hypothetical lower boundary for the rest of the mission and for the foreseeable future - Dawn will become the first human-made object to take up permanent residence in the .

The mission of the 1,098-kilogram (2,421-pound) Dawn spacecraft is to reconnoiter Vesta and Ceres, the asteroid belt's two most massive inhabitants -- the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres. The goal of this eight-year, 4.9-billion-kilometer (3-billion-mile) mission is to answer basic questions about the formation of planets in our solar system. NASA's unmanned will be the first ever to orbit two planetary bodies on a single voyage. Dawn is 619 days away from arrival at its first celestial objective, asteroid Vesta.

Provided by

Explore further: NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

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.

Dawn Glides Into New Year

Nov 21, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Dawn spacecraft shut down its ion propulsion system today as scheduled. The spacecraft is now gliding toward a Mars flyby in February of next year.

Dawn Finishes Mars Phase

Feb 27, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- With Mars disappearing in its metaphorical rearview mirror, NASA's Dawn spacecraft's next stop is the asteroid belt and the giant asteroid Vesta. Dawn got as close as 549 kilometers (341 miles) ...

Dawn Spacecraft Lifts Off

Sep 27, 2007

The Dawn spacecraft thundered off the launch pad aboard a Delta II rocket on the first part of its journey to the asteroid belt.

Recommended for you

Testing immune cells on the International Space Station

3 hours ago

The human body is fine-tuned to Earth's gravity. A team headed by Professor Oliver Ullrich from the University of Zurich's Institute of Anatomy is now conducting an experiment on the International Space Station ...

Easter morning delivery for space station

9 hours ago

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Apr 19, 2014

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

Apr 18, 2014

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.