Dawn starts orbiting Ceres after 7 years

Nasa spacecraft Dawn has successfully entered the ceres orbit after 7 years of travel on March 6, 2015. Dawn has also became the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet. Now it will start examining the unknown alien world.

Ceres was Discovered more than 200 years ago but still has remained a mystery for humans.

Dawn was launched on September 27, 2007 exactly 7 years, 5 months and 7 days ago from today to explore two big asteroid bodies the protoplanet Vesta and dwarf Ceres.

Dawn has already completed observation of Vesta, entering orbit on July 16, 2011, and successfully completing its mission in late 2012. 

It is also the first NASA exploratory mission to use ion propulsion to enter orbits.

Project history

Dawn has faced many cancellations from the time when this mission was proposed. The project was cancelled in December 2003, and then reinstated in February 2004. In October 2005, work on Dawn was placed in "stand down" mode, and in January 2006, the mission was discussed in the press as "indefinitely postponed", even though NASA had made no new announcements regarding its status. On March 2, 2006, Dawn was again cancelled by NASA.

Nasa put the cancellation under review when The spacecraft's manufacturer, Orbital Sciences Corporation appealed NASA's decision, offering to build the spacecraft at cost, forgoing any profit in order to gain experience in a new market field and on March 27, 2006, it was announced that the mission would not be cancelled after all.

Objectives of the mission

The Dawn mission was put forward to study the conditions and processes of the Solar System's earliest eon by investigating in detail two of the largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formation. Ceres and Vesta are highly suitable bodies with which to address this question. Ceres is primitive and icy and Vesta is evolved and rocky geologically.

Mission Chronology
  • September 27, 2007: launch 
  • February 17, 2009: Mars gravity assist
  • July 16, 2011: Vesta arrival and capture
  • August 11–31, 2011: Vesta survey orbit
  • September 29, 2011–November 2, 2011: Vesta first high altitude orbit
  • December 12, 2011–May 1, 2012: Vesta low altitude orbit
  • June 15, 2012–July 25, 2012: Vesta second high altitude orbit
  • September 5, 2012: Vesta departure
  • March 6, 2015: Ceres arrival
  • Early 2016 : End of primary Ceres operations