To Explore Strange New Worlds: Dawn's Star Trek-Like Voyage Right on Target

On February 17 at about 7:28 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, the spacecraft Dawn received a speed boost and a change of direction in the form of a gravity-assist from Mars. The craft slingshot past the planet, using it (rather than its own precious fuel) to adjust its trajectory, and will continue to the first stop in its journey, the asteroid Vesta. The Dawn mission has gone so smoothly that after almost a year and a half of travel, it required no course correction as it neared the Red Planet. Now that it has passed Mars, it will coast for about four months before powering up its ion drive engine and traveling another 26 months to Vesta.

Full story on Scientific American



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