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Dawn Reaches Final Orbit Around Ceres.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has entered a new and final orbit that will take it less than 35 km (22 miles) above the surface of asteroid Ceres. Since the two first rendezvoused on March 6, 2015, the probe has come no closer than 385 kilometers to the dwarf planet's surface (S&T: Dec. 2016, p. 16). Attaining a lower orbit was no mean feat: NASA engineers examined more than 45,000 possible trajectories before settling on a solution. The final 27-hour, 13-minute orbit puts Dawn in a 3:1 resonant orbit with the asteroid, which rotates once every 9 hours, 4 minutes. In its last months, Dawn will map Ceres in unprecedented detail while continuing to collect neutron and gamma-ray spectra, which probe the surface's composition. Among other things, engineers are targeting the crater Occator before the mission's end later this year. To see images from Dawn's new vantage point, visit https://is.gd/DawnsFinalOrbit.

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Title Annotation:IN BRIEF
Author:Dickinson, David
Publication:Sky & Telescope
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Oct 1, 2018
Words:154
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