NASA's Dawn project team recently earned two prestigious awards, honoring its successful mission to giant asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres.
On March 8, the Dawn project team was chosen to receive the prestigious National Aeronautic Association Robert J. Collier Trophy. This award is presented annually "for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year." Established in 1911, the 8-foot tall trophy resides at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington and is engraved with the names of recipients. Dawn competed with a field of nine finalists to win this year's award. The award will be presented on June 9.
Previous Collier Trophy recipients involving JPL missions include the teams from NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (2012) and Voyager (1980).
"We are grateful for this tremendous honor, recognizing the hard work, determination and unwavering commitment of this team to achieve mission success and advance the spirit of exploration," said Robert Mase, Dawn project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
On March 11, the Dawn project team was honored with the National Space Club and Foundation's Nelson P. Jackson Award, presented annually for "a significant contribution to the missile, aircraft or space field." The Dawn team accepted the award at the organization's 59th Annual Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner in Washington.
"Dawn is a historic mission: The first mission to orbit two extraterrestrial targets and the first to encounter a dwarf planet. The Dawn team excelled at these challenges, and our legacy of spectacular scientific data and strong public engagement has been exhilarating. We are truly honored to receive these recognitions," said Christopher Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The spacecraft is currently exploring Ceres in its low-altitude mapping orbit, at an altitude of 240 miles (385 kilometers).
Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
"The technical achievements of the Dawn mission have provided the scientific community with global datasets of two large bodies in the main asteroid belt, said Dawn Program Scientist Michael Kelley. "Unlike most objects in this region of the solar system, Vesta and Ceres are intact, which means that the spatial relationships of their surface features and internal layers are preserved. The unique datasets for these objects obtained by the Dawn mission provide a valuable look back to the earliest part of solar system history."
Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of mission participants, visit:
More information about Dawn is available at the following sites: