NASA’s Dawn Mission

What is Important?UPSC perspective:Prelims:HighlightsMains:Background & Highlights




Why in News?

After 11 years of breathtaking imagery, unprecedented feats of engineering & spacecraft records broken — it’s nearly time to bid farewell to NASA’s Dawn spacecraft as it comes to the expected end of the mission

Background:

*Dawn is a space probe launched by NASA in September 2007 with the mission of studying two of the three known protoplanets of the asteroid belt, Vesta and Ceres.
*It is currently in orbit about its second target, the dwarf planet Ceres.
*Dawn is the first spacecraft to orbit two extraterrestrial bodies, the first spacecraft to visit either Vesta or Ceres, and the first to visit a dwarf planet, arriving at Ceres in March 2015, a few months before New Horizons flew by Pluto in July 2015.

Highlights:

*Engineers designed Dawn’s final orbit to ensure it will not crash for at least 20 years — and likely decades longer.
*Dawn’s mission was extended several times as it explored Ceres and Vesta, which when combined, make up 45 percent of the mass of the main asteroid belt.
* Now, the spacecraft is about to run out of a key fuel, hydrazine.
*When that happens, most likely between September and October, Dawn will lose its ability to communicate with Earth.
It will remain in a silent orbit around Ceres for decades.
NASA’s Dawn Mission NASA’s Dawn Mission Reviewed by The Hindu Current Affairs on October 20, 2018 Rating: 5

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