NASA’s Dawn mission to asteroid belt ends

This illustration made available by NASA depicts the Dawn spacecraft orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres. On Thursday Nov. 1 2018 NASA announced it had lost the probe ending a fruitful mission in the asteroid belt

NASA has lost a second spacecraft this week, ending a fruitful mission in the asteroid belt.

Meanwhile, the spacecraft arrived at Ceres in 2015 where it has been orbiting since.

Dawn missed scheduled communications sessions with NASA's Deep Space Network on Wednesday and Thursday, according to a press release.

Scientists have known for about a month that Dawn was nearly out of hydrazine, a fuel that kept the spacecraft's antennae oriented toward Earth and helped turn its solar panels to the sun to recharge.

The U.S. space agency NASA declared on Thursday that its spacecraft Dawn has run out of fuel and gone silent, marking the end of its historic mission to study the two most massive bodies in the asteroid belt.

We will remind, interplanetary station Dawn, which, since 2007, explored the Solar system and visited the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres, has stopped communicating.

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

The spacecraft was moving as it captured the images with the PolyCam camera, and Bennu rotated 1.2 degrees during the almost one minute that elapsed between the first and the last snapshot. "It's hard to say goodbye to this wonderful spaceship, but it's time", said Mission Director and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). "The demands we made on Dawn were tremendous, but she always faced the challenge. - Hard to say goodbye to this wonderful spacecraft, but the time has come".

Vesta probably formed in the inner solar system and stayed between Mars and Jupiter, and it evolved just like the other rocky planets there.

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. "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".

Among the most astounding images were Dawn's views of Ceres' mysterious white spots, which reflected sunlight so brightly they were dubbed "alien headlights". "The team used a super-resolution algorithm to combine the eight images and produce a higher resolution view of the asteroid".

"In many ways, Dawn's legacy is just beginning", said the mission's principal Investigator, Carol Raymond of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

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