NASA's Dawn asteroid mission ends as fuel runs out

  • NASA's Dawn asteroid mission ends as fuel runs out

NASA's Dawn asteroid mission ends as fuel runs out

So credible is the threat, that two years NASA sent the OSIRIS-REx space probe to study the asteroid to see just how perilous it really is.

At the point when the spacecraft missed scheduled communications with NASA's Deep Space Network on Wednesday and Thursday, the space agency formally proclaimed it dead.

"The fantastic images and data Dawn collected from Vesta and Ceres are fundamental to understanding the history and evolution of our solar system", he said.

Dawn is referred as the only rocket to orbit an astronomical body in the fundamental space rock belt among Mars and Jupiter in 2011 when it started orbiting the space rock Vesta.

Dawn's demise is the latest in a series of spacecraft troubles for NASA.

Having traveled some 4.3 billion miles over the course of its 11-year mission, it's hard to say it had a bad innings, but it's a sad ending all the same.

Currently, Dawn is in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt - which is also the largest in the asteroid belt - where it will remain for at least 20 years. It then moved to the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015, becoming the first spacecraft to visit such a space object, NASA reported. Based on the data from the Dawn mission, scientists were also able to confirm that Vesta is the parent object the of howardite-eucrite-diogenite meteorites found on Earth.

"Today, we celebrate the end of our Dawn mission - its incredible technical achievements, the vital science it gave us, and the entire team who enabled the spacecraft to make these discoveries", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

"Dawn's data sets will be deeply mined by scientists working on how planets grow and differentiate, and when and where life could have formed in our solar system".

Dawn's four science experiments furthered humanity's understanding of planet formation and showed that dwarf planets could once have hosted their own oceans, and may still.

Researchers at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC), said the new photo of the asteroid Bennu is just the first of more exciting observations to come. In addition to returning a carbon-rich asteroid sample and studying Bennu's surface and composition, NASA's OSIRIS-REx will also look into how sunlight affects its orbit and document its regolith, the layer of material covering its surface.

An artist's concept of Dawn arriving at Ceres.

The Dawn mission launched in September 2007. "Ceres and Vesta are important to the study of distant planetary systems, too, as they provide a glimpse of the conditions that may exist around young stars", Raymond said.