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Find Out How “Crazy Engineering” Is Getting Dawn to Ceres

8 Jan 2015, 23:53 UTC
Find Out How “Crazy Engineering” Is Getting Dawn to Ceres
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Remember Dawn, the spacecraft that showed us our first close-up images of asteroid/protoplanet Vesta when it entered orbit back in 2011? Well Dawn is still going strong, having left Vesta behind and now closing in on its next target: Ceres, a full-fledged dwarf planet and, at about 600 miles (965 km) wide, the largest object in the main asteroid belt. Once […]

Artist’s impression of Dawn’s upcoming approach to Ceres. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Remember Dawn, the spacecraft that showed us our first close-up images of asteroid/protoplanet Vesta when it entered orbit back in 2011? Well Dawn is still going strong, having left Vesta behind and now closing in on its next target: Ceres, a full-fledged dwarf planet and, at about 600 miles (965 km) wide, the largest object in the main asteroid belt. Once Dawn arrives at Ceres on March 6 it will be the first spacecraft to enter orbit around two different targets!*
But despite all its travels Dawn isn’t burning any liquid fuel to get where it needs to go. Instead, it’s using some “crazy engineering” – ion engines, which produce only a tiny amount of force but, in space and over the course of weeks and months (and years), ...

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