Line Topics Small Bodies of the Solar System
NASA was responsible for the mission. The launch date was September 27, 2007. And the end of mission is due in July 2015. The Dawn mission was selected by NASA December 21, 2001 as part of the Discovery Program, with the aim to observe the asteroids Vesta and Ceres.
After the launch in September 27, 2007, the spacecraft performed a maneuver gravity assist with Mars in February 2009 to head towards Vesta and reach it in August 2011.
Following the racking in its orbit, the spacecraft has studied Vesta until May 2012 and then head to the time of Ceres, which will be reached in February 2015. The spacecraft will orbit around Ceres until July 2015.
The mission is ideally placed in between the exploration of the inner solar system rocky and gaseous outer Solar System. Complete the exploration of the inner solar system being complementary to current missions and future of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars; in particular, allow you to better understand the role and the importance of water in planetary evolution. The main scientific objectives of the mission are: the collection of information on the conditions that prevailed during the early stages of the evolution of the solar system, or on the first million years of evolution, and on the processes taking place on the bodies just formed; the characterization of the “building blocks” from which are formed the terrestrial planets, thus increasing our knowledge of this process of formation.
Ceres is very primitive and retains traces of water, unlike other minor planets, could also have an atmosphere subtle but permanent. Instead of Ceres, Vesta is evolved and dry, is the only asteroid that has obvious signs of a complex and thermal evolution similar to that of the terrestrial planets, with the presence of volcanism.
This spectacular image of comet Tempel 1 was taken 67 seconds after it obliterated Deep Impact’s impactor spacecraft.
To achieve its scientific objectives, Dawn will characterize asteroids observed in terms of shape and physical properties (size, shape, mass, time and rotation axis), morphological (local structures, distribution of craters, the presence or absence of regolith), geological and mineralogical nature of the surface, presence or absence of dust and / or gases.
The Italian participation in the mission is the provision of: an imaging spectrometer operating in the visible and near-infrared high spatial and spectral resolution to make the hyperspectral mapping of the asteroids: VIR-MS “Visible-IR Mapping Spectrometer”, derived from the VIRTIS instrument aboard the Rosetta mission, is under the responsibility PI Angioletta Coradini (INAF / IFSI) and was built by the industrial prime contractor Galileo Avionica, manpower to Dawn Project Team at JPL / UCLA for transactions in flight.
We will present some of the International Agreements. On 19 December 2003, was formalized the partnership between ASI and NASA for the realization of the Dawn mission through the signing of a Letter of Agreement. Subsequently, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding between NASA and ASI, which came into force on 6 July 2007.