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Dawn Sets Course for Higher Orbit

Dawn Sets Course for Higher Orbit

After studying Ceres for more than eight months from its low-altitude science orbit, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will move higher up for different views of the dwarf planet.

Dawn has delivered a wealth of images and other data from its current perch at 240 miles (385 kilometers) above Ceres’ surface, which is closer to the dwarf planet than the International Space Station is to Earth. Now, the mission team is pivoting to consider science questions that can be examined from higher up.

After Dawn completed its prime mission on June 30, having surpassed all of its scientific objectives at Vesta and at Ceres, NASA extended the mission to perform new studies of Ceres. One of the factors limiting Dawn’s lifetime is the amount of hydrazine, the propellant needed to orient the spacecraft to observe Ceres and communicate with Earth. By going to a higher orbit at Ceres, Dawn will use the remaining hydrazine more sparingly, because it won’t have to work as hard to counter Ceres’ gravitational pull.

“Most spacecraft wouldn’t be able to change their orbital altitude so easily. But thanks to Dawn’s uniquely capable ion propulsion system, we can maneuver the ship to get the greatest scientific return from the mission,” said Marc Rayman, chief engineer and mission director, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Dawn Sets Course for Higher Orbit

On Sept. 2, Dawn will begin spiraling upward to about 910 miles (1,460 kilometers) from Ceres. The altitude will be close to where Dawn was a year ago, but the orientation of the spacecraft’s orbit — specifically, the angle between the orbit plane and the sun — will be different this time, so the spacecraft will have a different view of the surface.

The mission team is continuing to develop the extended mission itinerary and will submit a full plan to NASA next month.

Dawn’s mission is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of mission participants.

source: world press news

NASA Television to Air Return

NASA Television to Air Return

Three crew members on the International Space Station are scheduled to depart the orbital outpost Saturday, Oct. 29, with coverage of activities beginning the day before on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Expedition 49 Commander Anatoly Ivanishin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins of NASA and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will undock their Soyuz spacecraft from the space station at 8:37 p.m. EDT Saturday and land in Kazakhstan at 11:59 p.m. (9:59 a.m. Oct. 30, Kazakhstan time).

NASA Television to Air Return

Their return will wrap up 115 days in space for the crew since their launch in July.

Together, the Expedition 49 crew members pursued hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the orbiting laboratory.

NASA Television will air coverage of the departure and landing activities at the following dates and times:

Friday, Oct. 28:

  • 3:30 p.m. – Change of command ceremony in which Ivanishin hands over station command to NASA’s Shane Kimbrough

Saturday, Oct. 29:

  • 4:45 p.m. – Farewell and hatch closure coverage (hatch closure scheduled at 5:15 p.m.)
  • 8:15 p.m. – Undocking coverage (undocking scheduled at 8:37 p.m.)
  • 10:45 p.m. – Deorbit burn and landing coverage (deorbit burn scheduled at 11:06 p.m., with landing at 11:59 p.m.)

Sunday, Oct. 30:

  • 2 a.m. – Video File of hatch closure, undocking and landing activities
  • 1 p.m. – Video File of landing and post-landing activities and post-landing interview with Rubins and Onishi in Kazakhstan

At the time of undocking, Expedition 50 will begin aboard the station under the command of NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough. Along with his crewmates Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, the three-person crew will operate the station for three weeks until the arrival of three new crew members. Peggy Whitson of NASA, Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) and Oleg Novitsky of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch in November from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Check out the full NASA TV schedule and video streaming information at:

Keep up with the International Space Station, and its research and crews, at:

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source:world press news