Exploring the Solar System

Exploring Asteroids and Comets

What is the Dawn mission?

On September 27, 2007, NASA launched the Dawn spacecraft on its multi-year mission to the main asteroid belt. After receiving a gravity assist from Mars in February 2009, Dawn reached its first destination, the asteroid Vesta, in July 2011. The spacecraft orbited Vesta for more than a year, taking detailed pictures and measurements, before breaking orbit and leaving Vesta on September 4, 2012. Dawn is now on its way to the largest asteroid in the solar system, the dwarf planet Ceres; it will arrive in July 2015.


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