Mar 06 2015

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DAWN enters Ceres orbit today

Dawn prepares for historic arrival at Ceres.

Like the probe’s arrival at Vesta, mission controllers will not be in communication with Dawn when it is captured into Ceres’ gravity due to the orientation needs of the spacecraft’s thrusters at the time.

In fact, it will not be until early afternoon Pacific Standard Time, mid-afternoon on the east coast of the United States, and early night UTC that confirmation of Dawn’s successful orbital insertion at Ceres is expected.

This confirmation will come after the spacecraft re-orients itself to re-establish communications with the Deep Space Network in Australia – a communication which will then be relayed to the mission’s control center at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

After orbital insertion occurs, Dawn will spend its first 15 days completing one orbit of Ceres before performing a spiral down maneuver into a survey orbit to obtain global views and maps of the dwarf planet with its a visible and infrared mapping spectrometer.

Alas, I’ll be umping this afternoon, so I’ll miss NASA’s announcement when it happens. I’ll certainly post about it this evening (6pm-ish) when I get home, though.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.newspaceraces.com/2015/03/06/dawn-enters-ceres-orbit-today/

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