A journey to the beginnings of the Solar System

Dawn - Mis­sion to Ves­ta and Ceres

Dawn – one mission, two heavenly bodies
Dawn – one mis­sion, two heav­en­ly bod­ies
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

Dawn – one mission, two heavenly bodies

NASA’s Dawn space­craft was launched on 27 Septem­ber 2007. On 16 Ju­ly 2011, it ar­rived at the as­ter­oid Ves­ta, which it ex­plored un­til 5 Septem­ber 2012. The space­craft then de­part­ed for the dwarf plan­et Ceres, where it will ar­rive on 6 March 2015. The Dawn mis­sion is the first to suc­ces­sive­ly study two ce­les­tial bod­ies from or­bit.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft was launched on 27 September 2007, and has been in space for nearly 11 years exploring the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres. They are the most massive objects of the asteroid belt and are located between Mars and Jupiter. Since their formation four and a half billion years ago, the two bodies have probably changed little and are therefore ideal to take a look far into the past, almost back to the dawn of our cosmic home.

The historic mission, which had been extended several times and far exceeded the expectations of the scientists, came to an end on 31 October 2018: radio contact with the probe stopped because it had run out of fuel as expected. But the data acquired until that moment will keep the scientists busy for a long time to come.

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