Marc Rayman
Marc Rayman, Chief Engineer/ Mission Director, JPL

Dawn’s mission director and chief engineer, Dr. Marc Rayman, takes you inside this remarkable solar system adventure. He presents a highly entertaining and accessible description of Dawn’s mission, starting with testing the spacecraft on Earth, then launching it and continuing through the entire deep-space journey. Nontechnical and technical readers alike will appreciate the most comprehensive and lively account available anywhere of a real interplanetary mission, including not only what happens but also how engineers and scientists manage to accomplish such extraordinary feats.

Click the year below to read his blog entries and discover what is so fascinating and inspiring about a bold expedition into the unknown.

2018: The Journey Ends

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  • Following a successful mission, Dawn mission operations concluded successfully on Oct. 31. (Please note the understated elegance of that sentence.)

  • Today Dawn is celebrating its 11th anniversary of spaceflight. This is the last dawnniversary the spacecraft will see.

  • People have been gazing in wonder and appreciation at the beauty of the night sky throughout the history of our species.

  • A fantastic story of adventure, exploration and discovery is reaching its denouement.

  • Dawn is going out on a high! Or maybe a low. Rapidly nearing the end of a unique decade-long interplanetary expedition, Dawn is taking phenomenal pictures of dwarf planet Ceres as it swoops closer to the ground than ever before.

  • Propelled by the perfect combination of xenon ions, hydrazine rocket propellant and adrenaline, Dawn is on the verge of its most ambitious exploits yet.

  • For the first time in almost a year, the Dawn mission control room at JPL is aglow with blue.

  • A veteran explorer is leisurely orbiting the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system.

2017: New Plans for Ceres

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  • Dawn has now logged 4 billion miles (6.4 billion kilometers) on its unique deep-space adventure.

  • Dawn's long and productive expedition in deep space is about to enter a new phase.

  • A decade after leaving its first home in the solar system, Dawn is healthy and successful at its current residence.

  • Orbiting the only dwarf planet inside the orbit of Neptune, Dawn is healthy and continuing to carry out its assignments at Ceres with the masterful skill to be expected for such an experienced space explorer.

  • On the other side of the solar system, invisible by virtue both of the blinding glare of the sun and by the vastness of the distance, Dawn is continuing its remarkable cosmic adventure.

  • Dawn has accomplished an extraordinary orbital dance.

  • Now in its third year of orbiting a distant dwarf planet, a spacecraft from Earth is as active as ever. Like a master artist, Dawn is working hard to add fine details to its stunning portrait of Ceres.

  • A sophisticated spaceship in orbit around an alien world has been firing its advanced ion engine to execute complex and elegant orbital acrobatics.

  • A deep-space robotic emissary from Earth is continuing to carry out its extraordinary mission at a distant dwarf planet.

2016: More Ceres adventures

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  • Dawn is concluding a remarkable year of exploring dwarf planet Ceres.

  • Blue rope lights adorn Dawn mission control at JPL, but not because the flight team is in the holiday spirit (although they are in the holiday spirit).

  • Dawn has just completed another outstandingly successful observation campaign at Ceres.

  • Nine years ago today, Dawn set sail on an epic journey of discovery and adventure.

  • Dawn is actively continuing to add details to the intimate portrait it is creating of Ceres, a distant and exotic world.

  • Humankind dispatched Dawn on an extraordinary extraterrestrial expedition in 2007.

  • Dawn is continuing to record the extraordinary sights on dwarf planet Ceres. The experienced explorer is closer to the alien world than the International Space Station is to Earth.

  • Dear Glutdawnous Readers, The distant dwarf planet that Dawn is circling is full of mystery and yet growing ever more familiar.

  • Dear Resplendawnt Readers, Scientists are still working on refining their understanding of this striking region.

  • Dear Indawnbitably Successful Readers, A story of intense curiosity about the cosmos, passionate perseverance and bold ingenuity, a story more than two centuries in the making, has reached an extraordinary point.

  • Dear Spellbindawngs, A veteran interplanetary traveler is writing the closing chapter in its long and storied expedition.

2015: Exploring Ceres

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  • Dear Transcendawnts, Dawn is now performing the final act of its remarkable celestial choreography, held close in Ceres’ firm gravitational embrace.

  • Dear Superintendawnts and Assisdawnts, An intrepid interplanetary explorer is now powering its way down through the gravity field of a distant alien world.

  • Dear Exuldawnt Readers, Dawn has completed another outstandingly successful campaign to acquire a wealth of pictures and other data in its exploration of dwarf planet Ceres.

  • Dear Dawnniversaries, eight years ago today, Dawn was gravitationally bound to a planet.

  • Dear Unhesidawntingly Enthusiastic Readers, an ambitious explorer from Earth is gaining the best views ever of dwarf planet Ceres.

  • Dear Descendawnts, flying on a blue-green ray of xenon ions, Dawn is gracefully descending toward dwarf planet Ceres.

  • Dear Evidawnce-Based Readers, Dawn is continuing to unveil a Ceres of mysteries at the first dwarf planet discovered.

  • Dear Emboldawned Readers, a bold adventurer from Earth is gracefully soaring over an exotic world of rock and ice far, far away.

  • Let's get Dawn to business, Dear Readers, Dawn's assignment when it embarked on its extraordinary extraterrestrial expedition in 2007 can be described quite simply: explore the two most massive uncharted worlds in the inner solar system.

  • Dear Dawnticipating Explorers, now orbiting high over the night side of a dwarf planet far from Earth, Dawn arrived at its new permanent residence on March 6.

  • Dear Unprecedawnted Readers, since its discovery in 1801, Ceres has been known as a planet, then as an asteroid, and later as a dwarf planet.

  • Dear Fine and Dawndy Readers, the Dawn spacecraft is performing flawlessly as it conducts the first exploration of the first dwarf planet.

  • Dear Abundawnt Readers, the dwarf planet Ceres is a giant mystery.

2014: Preparing for Ceres

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  • Pardawn Me, Dear Readers, far away from Earthlings who look forward to a new year, Dawn looks forward to a new world.

  • Dear Unidawntified Flying Objects, flying silently and smoothly through the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn emits a blue-green beam of high velocity xenon ions.

  • Dear Dawnomalies, farther from Earth and from the sun than it has ever been, Dawn is on course and on schedule for its March 2015 arrival at Ceres, an enigmatic world of rock and ice.

  • Dear Dawnniversaries, on the seventh anniversary of embarking upon its extraordinary extraterrestrial expedition, the Dawn spacecraft is far from the planet where its journey began.

  • Dear Omnipodawnt Readers, Dawn draws ever closer to the mysterious Ceres, the largest body between the sun and Pluto not yet visited by a probe from Earth.

  • Dear Studawnts and Teachers, patient and persistent, silent and alone, Dawn is continuing its extraordinary extraterrestrial expedition.

  • Dear Mastodawns, deep in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter, far from Earth, far from the sun, far now even from the giant protoplanet Vesta that it orbited for 14 months, Dawn flies with its sights set on dwarf planet Ceres

  • Dear Dawnosaurs, silently streaking through the main asteroid belt, emitting a blue-green beam of xenon ions, Dawn continues its ambitious interplanetary expedition.

  • I have been captivated by space since I was four years old, and my enthusiasm has grown stronger and stronger ever since

  • Dear Compedawnt Readers, less than a year from its rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is continuing to make excellent progress on its ambitious interplanetary adventure.

  • Dear Correspondawnts, powering its way through deep space, Dawn draws ever closer to dwarf planet Ceres.

  • Dear Ardawnt Readers, continuing its daring mission to explore some of the last uncharted worlds in the inner solar system, Dawn remains on course and on schedule for its rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres next year.

  • Dear Rendawnvous, Dawn is continuing its trek through the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

  • From Our Chief Engineer: I was delighted to be asked to name my top five accomplishments for the Dawn mission in 2013.

2013: Cruising through the solar system

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  • Dear Clairvoydawnts, now more than halfway through its journey from protoplanet Vesta to dwarf planet Ceres, Dawn is continuing to use its advanced ion propulsion system to reshape its orbit around the sun.

  • Dear Hand-Me-Dawns, gliding smoothly through the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn continues to make good progress on its ambitious mission of exploration.

  • Dear All Hallows' Dawns, deep in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn is continuing its smooth, silent flight toward dwarf planet Ceres.

  • Dear Dawnniversaries, on the sixth anniversary of leaving Earth to embark on a daring deep-space expedition, Dawn is very, very far from its erstwhile planetary residence.

  • Dear Antecedawnts, traveling confidently and alone, Dawn continues to make its way through the silent depths of the main asteroid belt.

  • Dear Megalodawniacs, powering its way through the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn continues on course and on schedule for its 2015 appointment with dwarf planet Ceres.

  • Dear Dawnamic Readers, the indefatigable Dawn spacecraft is continuing its extraordinary interplanetary flight on behalf of inquisitive creatures on distant Earth.

  • Dear Confidawnts, traveling from one alien world to another, Dawn is reliably powering its way through the main asteroid belt with its ion propulsion system.

  • Dear Dawnscerning Readers, nearly three times as far from Earth as the sun is, the Dawn spacecraft is making very good progress on its ambitious trek from Vesta to Ceres.

  • Dear Indawnstrious Readers, in the depths of the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, far from Earth, far even from any human-made object, Dawn remains in silent pursuit of dwarf planet Ceres.

  • Dear Impordawnt Readers, the indefatigable Dawn spacecraft is continuing to forge through the main asteroid belt, gently thrusting with its ion propulsion system.

  • Dear Dawn't Look Backs, its long and daring interplanetary journey continuing smoothly, Dawn is making good progress in gradually reshaping its orbit around the sun.

2012: More exploration and leaving Vesta behind

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  • Dawn concludes 2012 almost 13,000 times farther from Vesta than it began the year.

  • Dear Dawndroids, Dawn is continuing to gently and patiently change its orbit around the sun.

  • Dear Indawnspensable Readers, Dawn is making good progress on the second segment of its cosmic travels.

  • Dear Dawnniversaries, on the fifth anniversary of the beginning of its ambitious interplanetary adventure, Dawn can look back with great satisfaction on its spectacular exploration of the giant protoplanet Vesta and forward with great eagerness to reaching dwarf planet Ceres.

  • Dear Marvestalous Readers, an interplanetary spaceship left Earth in 2007.

  • Dear Dawnpartures, Dawn has completed the final intensive phase of its extraordinary exploration of Vesta, and it has now begun its gradual departure.

  • Dear Upside Dawn Readers, Dawn is now seeing Vesta in a new light. Once again the probe is diligently mapping the ancient protoplanet it has been orbiting for nearly a year.

  • Dear Readers of all Dawnominations, far from Earth, on the opposite side of the sun, deep in the asteroid belt, Dawn is gradually spiraling around the giant protoplanet Vesta.

  • Dear Dawnright Spectacular Readers, Dawn is wrapping up a spectacularly rewarding phase of its mission of exploration.

  • Dear Dawnscoverers, on March 29, Vesta spent the 205th anniversary of its discovery by treating Dawn to more spectacular vistas, as it does so often these days.

  • Dear Ups and Dawns, Dawn is continuing its exploits at Vesta, performing detailed studies of the colossal asteroid from its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO).

  • Dear Asdawnished Readers, Dawn is scrutinizing Vesta from its low-altitude mapping orbit (LAMO), circling the rocky world five and a half times a day.

2011: Exploring Vesta

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  • Dear Indawnstructibles, Dawn concludes 2011 more than 40 thousand times nearer to Vesta than it began the year.

  • Continuing its ambitious campaign of exploration deep in the asteroid belt, Dawn has spent most of the past month spiraling ever closer to Vesta.

  • Dawn has completed another wonderfully successful phase of its exploration of Vesta, studying it in unprecedented detail during the past month.

  • Dawn’s fourth anniversary of being in space is very different from its previous ones.

  • Dawn has completed the first phase of its exploration of Vesta with tremendous success, and the peripatetic adventurer is now in powered flight again, on its way to a new location from which to scrutinize its subject.

  • Dawn is now beginning intensive observations of the alien world it orbits.

  • Dawn has arrived!!

  • Vesta beckons, and Dawn responds.

  • Dawn remains healthy and on course as it continues to approach Vesta.

  • Dawn is on the threshold of a new world.

  • Three and a half years after launch, Dawn continues its travels around the sun, maneuvering to take the same orbital path as Vesta.

  • Deep in the asteroid belt, Dawn continues thrusting with its ion propulsion system.

  • Dawn continues its flight through the asteroid belt, steadily heading toward its July rendezvous with Vesta, where it will take up residence for a year.

2010: Preparing for Vesta

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  • Dawn finishes 2010 much as it began the year, thrusting with its ion propulsion system in steady pursuit of a distant world.

  • Dawn is maintaining its smooth and steady course through the solar system as it gradually closes in on Vesta.

  • Continuing its journey to collect treats in the main asteroid belt, Dawn is making excellent progress toward its July 2011 rendezvous with protoplanet Vesta.

  • On the third anniversary of traveling through the solar system on its own since dispatching Dawn on a separate journey, Earth continues to orbit the sun in much the same way it has been.

  • Dawn's journey ever-deeper into the asteroid belt continues to go well, as the spacecraft carries out its familiar routine of thrusting gently with its ion propulsion system.

  • Dawn is flying smoothly through the asteroid belt, now less than a year from entering orbit around Vesta, the first of its two cosmic destinations.

  • Dear Daw9.0s, a new version of the Dawn spacecraft is continuing the ambitious journey through the asteroid belt to uncharted distant worlds.

  • After more than 2.5 years of spaceflight, and more than 6 months in the asteroid belt, Dawn's interplanetary journey continues smoothly.

  • Dear Adawnherents, Dawn remains on course and on schedule for its appointments with Vesta and Ceres, colossal protoplanets in the main asteroid belt.

  • Dear Dawnthorities, Dawn continues patiently forging through the asteroid belt, its permanent residence, as it climbs away from Earth and the Sun.

  • Dear Dawnthropoids, pushing ever farther into space, deeper into the asteroid belt, Dawn is continuing to progress smoothly on its solar system journey.

  • Dear Plausible Dawniabilities, patiently and reliably continuing with its interplanetary voyage, Dawn is now flying in a new configuration and, from the perspective of those readers who may be on Earth, in a new direction.

2009: Going beyond Mars

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  • Dear Dawnters and Sons, the Dawn mission continues to go smoothly, as Earth’s distant envoy carries out its interplanetary journey.

  • Dear Dawnticlimaxes, Dawn continues to make steady progress through the solar system as it maintains a gentle pressure on its orbit around the Sun.

  • Dear Dawn-o’-lanterns, Dawn continues to make steady progress on its journey through the solar system.

  • Dear Dawnniversaries, Dawn is celebrating the second anniversary of leaving its home planet by engaging in the same function it has performed most of its time in space.

  • Dear Indawnmitables, the Dawn mission remains on course as the spacecraft continues to thrust with its ion propulsion system, patiently, persistently, and gently changing its orbit to keep its appointment with protoplanet Vesta in two years.

  • Dear Indawnfatigables, shhhh! Dawn is in “quiet cruise,” and we do not want to disturb it.

  • Dear Dawnterested Readers, having completed the longest planned coasting period of its entire mission, Dawn is now back to its familiar routine.

  • Dear Astrodawns, Dawn’s mission continues to go very well, as the spacecraft nears the end of the longest coasting period of its astronomical journey.

  • Dear Dawngrades, the upgraded Dawn spacecraft is now traveling in a new direction in its orbit around the Sun.

  • Dear Dawntpanics, Dawn continues to coast quietly and calmly in its orbit around the Sun, keeping its main antenna pointed to faraway Earth.

  • Dear Dawnlight Saving Times, now boosted into a new solar orbit courtesy of Mars, Dawn continues its interplanetary journey.

  • Dear Charles Dawnwins, Dawn continues to close in on Mars, ready for the gravitational slingshot that will help it on its expedition to the asteroid belt and its quest to gain insights into the evolution of the solar system.

  • Dear Dawncers, Dawn continues on course for its pas de deux with Mars on February 17.

2008: Heading for Mars

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  • Dear Dawncember30ths, having fulfilled all of its assignments for 2008, the Dawn spacecraft has been unusually quiescent recently.

  • Dear Indawnviduals, the Dawn spacecraft is healthy and on course for its flyby of Mars early next year.

  • Dear Presidawntial Candidawnts, the Dawn spacecraft continues on course and on schedule for its bold campaign to unexplored worlds.

  • Dear Dawnniversaries, on the first anniversary of its departure from Earth, Dawn continues with what it has been doing for most of its time in space.

  • Dear Dawnivores, the Dawn spacecraft continues to make good progress on its adventure to unlock scientific secrets hidden deep in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter.

  • Dear Dawnminants, Dawn continues its flight through the solar system with all systems functioning well.

  • Dear Dawnlettantes, now using an ion thruster that had been powered off since October, Dawn continues to make steady progress on its journey deeper into space.

  • Dear Pseudawnyms, the Dawn mission continues smoothly, as the spacecraft reliably thrusts with its ion propulsion system, demonstrating all the patience of a -- well, of an ion-propelled spacecraft!

  • Dear Dawnocrats, Republidawns, and Indawnpendents, Dawn continues its powered flight, having accumulated more than 100 days of ion thrusting since its launch nearly 7 months ago.

  • Dear Heliodawns, Dawn is as far from Earth as the Sun.

  • Dear Phildawnthropists, treating intercalary days just as it does most other days in its interplanetary cruise, today Dawn continues patiently and ever-so-gently reshaping its orbit around the Sun with the delicate yet persistent push from its ion propulsion system.

  • Dear Dawnnoisseurs, now in interplanetary cruise, the Dawn spacecraft is following a much more leisurely pace than the one it maintained during the initial checkout phase of the mission.

2007: The journey begins

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  • Dear Aficidawnados, Dawn is climbing away from the Sun on a blue-green pillar of xenon ions as it begins a new chapter in its mission.

  • Dear Dawnocentrics, now more than halfway through its 80-day initial checkout phase, the Dawn spacecraft continues to please its fans in mission control and throughout much of the rest of the universe.

  • Dear Extraordawnaries, Dawn’s checkout phase continues to go very well.

  • Dear Xedawnions, joining an elite club among spacecraft, Dawn successfully fired up its xenon ion propulsion system on October 6.

  • Dear Dawnitsways, the Dawn project welcomes you to deep space! Dawn is operating smoothly on the fourth day of its 8-year adventure.

  • Dear Countdawns, the countdown is underway for Dawn’s liftoff on September 26 at 7:25:00 am EDT.

  • Dear Dawntastics, now less than two weeks from its planned September 26 launch, Dawn is eagerly awaiting the beginning of its fantastic adventure.

  • Dear Dawnbassadors, NASA is preparing (again) to bring Dawn to the Florida skies as all systems are gearing up for a September 26 launch.

  • Dear Dawntothegrounds, there are two ways for a spacecraft to leave its launch pad.

  • Dear Dawnpours, just after the previous log was posted, further predictions of poor weather at Cape Canaveral and difficulties with a downrange launch vehicle tracking system required a launch postponement.

  • Dear Countdawns, the countdown is underway for Dawn’s liftoff on July 8 at 4:04:49 pm EDT.

  • Dear Dawnventurers, now only two weeks away from its planned launch, Dawn is eagerly awaiting the beginning of its cosmic adventure.

  • Dear Dawntelligentsia, the complex and intricate steps necessary for Dawn to reach space continue as its launch date grows near.

  • Dear Dawngineers, Dawn has been greatly enjoying its stay in the Cape Canaveral area, literally the last place on Earth it will be.

  • Dear Dawnthecoasts, the Dawn spacecraft has completed its longest terrestrial journey on its path to asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.

  • ear DawNRLs, the Dawn spacecraft has just completed the final and most challenging of the environmental tests needed to prepare for its launch and travels through space.

2006: Preparing the spacecraft

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  • Dear Dawnewyears, the Dawn spacecraft has made its new year's resolution.

  • Dear Dawnvironments, the Dawn spacecraft is in space! Well, not quite, but it is getting a taste of the space environment, courtesy of the team preparing it for its mission.

  • Dear Dawntellectuals, there is only about three quarters of a revolution remaining around the Sun before Dawn leaves Earth to travel on its own to distant worlds.

  • Dear Dawnthusiasts, Dawn continues to keep its human handlers very busy as preparations continue on schedule to meet the planned opening of the launch period on June 20, 2007.

  • Dear Dawnologists, Dawn is making good progress in preparing for its 2007 launch.

  • Dear Dawnophile, coming in summer 2007 to a solar system near you (well, near most of you, anyway): the Dawn mission!

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