Feeds

NASA names the day for Dawn raid on asteroid belt

Launch date pencilled in

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

NASA has confirmed the launch date for Dawn, its mission to the asteroid belt. The space agency is aiming for a launch window that opens at 07:25 (EDT) on 26 September, and closes again 29 minutes later.

Artist's impression of Dawn flying past the dwarf-planet Ceres

Artist's impression of Dawn flying past the dwarf-planet Ceres.

The agency gets three chances. Although each window is short, there is a launch opportunity on each of the 26, 27, and 28 September, so even if a storm threatens on 26 September, the asteroid hunter could still see space next week.

Dawn's mission is to search the asteroid belt for clues to the conditions and processes that were at work in the very first years of our solar system's existence. The craft will make detailed surveys of the massive asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres.

The asteroid belt skirts our solar system just between Mars and Jupiter. Astronomers believe the asteroids are the pieces of proto-planet that never made it.

Recent snaps from Hubble, NASA says, have raised some interesting questions about the history of both Ceres and Vesta. The two bodies NASA has targeted for a close-up have very different evolutionary histories, and between them should help scientists understand some of what was going on during the first few million years. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.