Mission summary

The Dawn mission was launched on 27 September 2007 at 07:34 local time from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a Delta II Heavy 2925H-9.5 rocket including a Star 48 upper stage. The objective of the mission is the most thorough investigation of the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres. With Dawn, researchers expect to find out what happened during the first few millions of years after the planets were formed.

The Dawn mission is headed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). JPL is a department of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. The University of California in Los Angeles is responsible for the scientific part of the mission. The German camera system on board the spacecraft was developed and built under the management of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Goettingen, in collaboration with the DLR Institute of Planetary Research in Berlin and the Institute of Computer and Communication Network Engineering, Braunschweig. The camera project is financially supported by the Max Planck Society, DLR and NASA/JPL.

Facts of the Dawn mission

Launch: 27 September 2007, Cape Canaveral
Launch vehicle: Delta 2925 H-9.5
Mars flyby: February 2009
Arrival at Vesta: July 2011
Arrival at Ceres: March 2015
Ground receiving stations: Canberra, Madrid, Goldstone
Ground control station: Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena
Orbit around Vesta: Polar orbit at an altitude of 2420 to 180 kilometres
Orbit around Ceres: Polar orbit at an altitude of 5920 to 480 kilometres
Propulsion system: 3 xenon ion engines
Spacecraft mass: 1250 kilograms
Dimensions: Height approx. 2 metres, span approx. 20 metres
Energy supply: Gallium arsenide solar cells, 10 kW at Earth, 1 kW at Ceres


Last modified: 26/03/2015 14:14:35

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Elke Heinemann
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) - German Aerospace Center

Tel.: +49 2203 601-2867

Fax: +49 2203 601-3249
Ulrich Köhler
Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) - German Aerospace Center

Tel.: +49 30 67055-215

Fax: +49 30 67055-402

Launch of the Dawn mission

Start der Dawn%2dMission am 27. September 2007

Launch of the Dawn mission: on the morning of 27 September 2007, the spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral (Florida) on a Delta II rocket.

The Dawn spacecraft leaving Earth orbit

Dawn%2dSonde beim Verlassen der Erdumlaufbahn

Artist's impression of the Dawn spacecraft leaving Earth orbit. The two identical framing cameras are positioned at the front on the top of the satellite bus.

Seventy-metre NASA antennas in Canberra

70%2dMeter%2dAntenne der NASA in Canberra

The control of the Dawn spacecraft and the reception of the data are undertaken by means of three 70-metre NASA antennas in Goldstone (California), Madrid and Canberra.

Dawn mission logo

Logo der Dawn%2dMission

Dawn mission logo. Dawn is a mission in NASA's Discovery programme, and an outstanding example of international cooperation with partners in Germany and Italy. The scientific management of the mission lies with the University of California in Los Angeles.


  • DLR Institute of Planetary Research: Dawn - Image of the day
  • DLR Space Administration: Dawn
  • Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research - Dawn
  • NASA Dawn Mission Homepage
  • Dawn mission video


  • Dawn brochure (1.26 MB)