Dawn Sees Dusk — NASA Asteroid Explorer Goes Dark

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft missed its schedule communication session with NASA’s Deep Space Network on both Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 this past week.  After eliminating other causes, mission manages concluded that the spacecraft finally ran out of the fuel hydrazine, which it uses to point its antenna toward Earth for communications and turn its solar panels to the…
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Finally — A Super-Close Look At Ceres’ Brightest Spot

What a feast for the eye! Some of us have been waiting more than three years for this image. It’s the closest view yet of the brightest spot on Ceres, an asteroid and dwarf planet orbiting within the main asteroid belt. Once known as “Spot 5”, the scintillating splotch has since been named Cerealia Facula…
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Dawn Sees Ceres From Lowest Orbit Ever

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is now closer to Ceres than ever before. Ceres is the largest known asteroid and the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system. After Dawn entered orbit around Ceres in March 2015, it came no closer than 240 miles (385 km) from its surface. But beginning in April this year, mission…
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Dawn To Peer At Ceres From Just 30 Miles Up

Dawn’s going down. The spacecraft, which has been orbiting Ceres since March 2015, will maneuver to its final and lowest orbit ever to take incredibly detailed photos and compositional measurements of the dwarf planet. As you read this, NASA engineers are firing Dawn’s ion engine to lower the probe into a snug loop less than…
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Ceres 300+ Bright Spots Shine Light On An Active World

If you could hop aboard NASA’s Dawn spacecraft and fly over the dwarf planet Ceres, it’s surface would look quite dark, about the same as an aged asphalt parking lot. But a closer look would reveal hundreds of bright spots. Ever since they were discovered in photos taken with the Dawn spacecraft, still in orbit about…
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