[FPSPACE] FW: JPL: Dawn Spacecraft Shuts Down Ion Propulsion as Planned

LARRY KLAES ljk4 at msn.com
Fri Nov 21 07:20:09 EST 2008


> Date: Thu, 20 Nov 2008 23:37:39 -0500> From: steve.maran at aas.org> To: steve.maran at aas.org> Subject: JPL: Dawn Spacecraft Shuts Down Ion Propulsion as Planned> > THE FOLLOWING RELEASE WAS RECEIVED FROM THE JET PROPULSION LABORATORY> IN PASADENA, CALIFORNIA, AND IS FORWARDED FOR YOUR INFORMATION.> (FORWARDING DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT BY THE AMERICAN ASTRONOMICAL> SOCIETY.) Steve Maran, American Astronomical Society:> steve.maran at aas.org, 1-202-328-2010 x116.> > Contact:> DC Agle> 1-818-393-9011> agle at jpl.nasa.gov> > Dawn Glides Into New Year Nov. 20, 2008> > JPL's Dawn spacecraft shut down its ion propulsion system today> as scheduled. The spacecraft is now gliding toward a Mars flyby> in February of next year.> > "Dawn has completed the thrusting it needs to use Mars for a gravity> assist to help get us to Vesta," said Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer,> of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Dawn will now> coast in its orbit around the sun for the next half a year before we> again fire up the ion propulsion system to continue our journey to the> asteroid belt."> > Dawn's ion engines may get a short workout next January to provide any> final orbital adjustments prior to its encounter with the Red Planet.> Ions are also scheduled to fly out of the propulsion system during some> systems testing in spring. But mostly, Dawn's three ion engines will remain> silent until June, when they will again speed Dawn toward its first appointment,> with asteroid Vesta.> > Dawn's ion engines are vital to the success of the misson's 8-year,> 4.9-billion-kilometer> (3-billion-mile) journey to asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres. One of these> extremely frugal powerhouses can generate more than 24 hours of> thrusting while consuming> about .26 kilograms (about 9 ounces) of the spacecraft's xenon fuel> supply -- less than the> contents of a can of soda. Over their lifetime, Dawn's three ion> propulsion engines will fire> cumulatively for about 50,000 hours (over five years) -- a record for> spacecraft.> > Dawn will begin its exploration of asteroid Vesta in 2011 and the> dwarf planet Ceres in 2015.> These two icons of the asteroid belt have been witness to so much of> our solar system's history.> By utilizing the same set of instruments at two separate destinations,> scientists can more accurately> formulate comparisons and contrasts. Dawn's science instrument suite> will measure shape, surface topography,> tectonic history, elemental and mineral composition, and will seek out> water-bearing minerals. In> addition, the Dawn spacecraft itself and how it orbits both Vesta and> Ceres will be used to measure the> celestial bodies' masses and gravity fields.> > The Dawn mission to asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres is managed> and operated by JPL for NASA's Science> Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The University of California,> Los Angeles, is responsible for overall> Dawn mission science. Other scientific partners include: Max Planck> Institute for Solar System Research,> Katlenburg, Germany; DLR Institute for Planetary Research, Berlin,> Germany; Italian National Institute for> Astrophysics, Rome; and the Italian Space Agency. Orbital Sciences> Corporation of Dulles, Virginia,> designed and built the Dawn spacecraft.> > Additional information about Dawn is online at> http://www.nasa.gov/dawn and http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov> --------------------------------------------------------------------------> If you do not wish to receive press releases that are forwarded to the> news media by the American Astronomical Society, just reply> accordingly to any incoming press release, or write to> steve.maran at aas.org. Requests for referrals to experts on astronomy> and space exploration should be sent to the same address. Steve Maran,> AAS Press Officer: steve.maran at aas.org, telephone 1-202-328-2010 x116.
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