A backyard asteroid mission
January 2013: You can’t capture the detail of the Dawn mission, but observing its targets is a thrill nonetheless.
November 26, 2012
|In the early hours of September 27, 2007, a Delta II rocket lifted off its launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida. It was the first day of the Dawn mission, an ambitious undertaking by NASA to send a spacecraft to the two most massive members of the asteroid belt — Ceres and Vesta. Dawn arrived at Vesta on July 16, 2011, orbiting and studying the Arizona-sized asteroid for more than a year. On September 5, 2012, the ion-propelled craft bid adieu to Vesta and began its journey toward a Ceres encounter in 2015.|
What would prompt NASA to incur the expense of a mission to two asteroids, instead of one?
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