NASA’s Dawn probe falls silent, ending mission to mysterious dwarf planet Ceres

11-Year-Old Mission Ends As NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Goes Silent

"The machine Dawn has not been in contact with the deep space Network on Wednesday 31 October and Thursday 1 November, NASA announced". The 11-year-old spacecraft has no more energy to point its antennae to Earth to communicate or turn its solar panels toward the sun to recharge.

"The fact that my car's license plate reads "my other vehicle is in the asteroid belt" shows how proud I am of Dawn", said Dawn mission's director and chief engineer Marc Rayman. NASA's Dawn became the only spacecraft to orbit a cosmic body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter in 2011 when it began orbiting around Vesta.

Then it moved on to the dwarf planet Ceres in 2015, becoming the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet and the only spacecraft to orbit one, NASA said.

"The incredible images and data received from Dawn at Vesta and Ceres, is essential to understanding the history and evolution of the Solar system", says Tubergen.

The spacecraft itself may indeed be dead, but Dawn's contribution to science is far from over.

The Kepler space telescope ran out of fuel earlier this week, as expected, ending its nine and a half year mission of hunting for planets outside our solar system.

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Dawn was a space probe launched by NASA in September 2007 with the mission of studying two of the three known protoplanets of the asteroid belt, Vesta and Ceres.

Currently, it's in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres, where it will remain for decades, NASA said.

"In many ways, Dawn's legacy is just beginning", said Dawn's principal investigator Carol Raymond.

Dawn also detected an abundance of organic molecules in one of Ceres' craters, which might have come from the planet's ocean.

This became the official completion of his mission and declared the assistant administrator of management of scientific missions NASA Thomas Zurbuchen in the official press release. Dawn spent nearly a decade studying a pair of asteroids in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, learning as much as it could about those unusual worlds. Because Ceres has conditions of interest to scientists who study chemistry that leads to the development of life, Nasa follows strict planetary protection protocols for the disposal of the Dawn spacecraft, Nasa said. The engineers have more than 99 percent confidence the orbit will last for at least 50 years, NASA stated on its website.

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