NASA’s Dawn Headed To Dwarf Planet Ceres
Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory received confirmation Sept. 5 that the agency’s Dawn spacecraft has escaped the gravitational pull of the giant asteroid Vesta and is on its way to its second destination, the dwarf planet Ceres, according to a NASA press release.
Launched in September 2007 aboard a2 rocket, Dawn entered orbit around Vesta July 15, 2011. The Orbital Sciences Corp.-built spacecraft has spent the last year mapping the asteroid to help scientists better understand how the solar system was formed.
Dawn, a roughly $450 million mission developed under NASA’s Discovery program of competitively selected space science missions, is expected to reach Ceres in early 2015.