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Dawn Mission to Asteroids Dawn Mission to Dwarf Planets

Goals: Dawn is designed to study the conditions and processes of the solar system's earliest epoch by investigating in detail two of the largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formations. The orbiter targeted the giant asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, two main asteroid belt worlds that followed very differently evolutionary paths.

Accomplishments: Dawn comprehensively mapped Vesta, revealing an exotic and diverse protoplanet. The findings are helping scientists unlock some of the secrets of how the solar system, including our own Earth, was formed. It is now en route to dwarf planet Ceres.


Links to Dawn Journal
Key Dates
27 Sep 2007:  Launch (12:34 UTC)
16 Jul 2011:  Arrival at Vesta
5 Sep 2012:  Departure from Vesta
6 Mar 2015:  Ceres Arrival
Status: En Route to Ceres
Fast Facts
Dawn Facts Since its discovery in 1801, Ceres (right) has been classified as a planet, an asteroid and a dwarf planet. It is the nearest dwarf planet to our sun.

Dawn traveled 2.8 billion kilometers (1.8 billion miles) to get from Earth to Vesta. It will travel another 1.6 billion kilometers (990 million miles) to get to Ceres.

Dawn used Mars' gravity to give it a boost to the main asteroid belt.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft on July 16 became the first probe ever to enter orbit around an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
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Last Updated: 25 Apr 2015