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NASA reinstates cancelled Dawn asteroid probe

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posted on Mar, 27 2006 @ 11:34 PM
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This is great new. I was quite distraught by NASA's move to cancel the Dawn probe last month. Sadly, the launch date has been pushed back from June, 2006 to mid-summer, 2007.

The probe will visit two major asteroids, Vesta and Ceres, take many images and hopefully allow us a new, exclusive glimpse at these asteroids. Aside from being the first probe to exclusively visit the asteroid belt, it is also NASA's first scientific probe to use an ion drive for propulsion.



Space.com - NASA Reinstates Cancelled Asteroid Mission

NASA’s once-canceled Dawn mission to visit a pair of asteroids has been reinstated following a mission review, space agency officials said Monday.

NASA initially canceled the Dawn mission, which calls for an ion-powered spacecraft to visit two large asteroids, earlier this month only to reverse that decision, which drew ire and opposition from planetary scientists at this month’s 37th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC).

After an in-depth study of the cost overruns and technical challenges plaguing Dawn’s development, NASA officials concluded that the mission should proceed towards a summer 2007 launch target.


The asteroids are two of the known largest in the Solar System. Here is an image to give comparison with the Moon.



By the way, those are the two best images we have of the asteroids, as taken by Hubble. Vesta is at left with Ceres in the center.




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