NASA extends Dawn mission at dwarf planet Ceres

  • NASA has approved a second extension of the Dawn mission at Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
  • During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before at the dwarf planet, which it has been orbiting since March 2015, the US space agency.
  • The spacecraft, which has already completed 10 years of spaceflight, will continue at Ceres for the remainder of its science investigation and will remain in a stable orbit indefinitely after its fuel runs out.
  • Dawn completed its prime mission in June 2016, and its first extension was also approved that year. 
  • A priority of the second Ceres mission extension is collecting data with Dawn’s gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, which measures the number and energy of gamma rays and neutrons, NASA said.
  • This information is important for understanding the composition of Ceres’ uppermost layer and how much ice it contains.


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