There Will Be No Dawn

Well, not until September at the earliest, that is. (Oh! That feels so good to have finally been able to use that as a post title!)

Dawn concept image: William K. Hartmann Courtesy of UCLAWhat am I talking about? NASA’s Dawn mission, of course. Dawn is a spacecraft that will go to the asteroid belt to study more closely the two largest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta. (Image right is an artist’s impression of the spacecraft. credit: William K. Hartmann, Courtesy of UCLA) In addition to the mission page linked above, there’s also a nice Wikipedia article about it here.

Last Thursday was to be the launch, but there were problems due to weather (mostly) – you don’t want to be fueling the tanks of the launch vehicle when there is high risk of lightning, as there was that day. There’s more about the matters on the NASA site, and also and Amara’s post on Scientific Blogging.

Actually, her post there is extremely informative about the goals of the mission, and lots of the scientific background, and so I recommend it highly. There’s so much to learn about our own origins from these sorts of studies, perhaps including the answers to the basic and vital questions about the origin of water here on earth! Amara (who is a regular here at Asymptotia) is part of the Dawn project, and so is a good person to ask more about the project or just comment on her post there. (Feel free to ask her questions about it here too if you like.)

Fingers crossed for luck for the September launch. That’s apparently the latest launch window available for the project, and given that it is in the middle of the hurricane season, a little extra luck is needed, I think.


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2 Responses to There Will Be No Dawn

  1. Amara says:

    The period for the new launch date will be between 7 September and 15 October, probably morning windows (less trouble for thunderstorms). In order to refine the dates further, the project will consider the launch vehicle readiness, the weather (as always), and availability of ships for post-launch tracking.

    In these next two months, then, Dawn will be quasi-stored. The fairing will be removed, so that the spacecraft and the third stage can go into a transportation vehicle lovingly called ‘the can’, and moved off of the launch pad. The first and second stages of the Delta II rocket will stay on the launch pad.

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