DAWN asteroid mission has ion thruster hiccup as result of radiation event

by | Sep 20, 2014 | exploration, NASA, Satellites | 0 comments

On 11 September 2014, NASA’s DAWN spacecraft which is currently travelling to the Ceres asteroid having previously visited the asteroid Vesta, has entered safe mode.  The cause of the event is thought to be a high energy particle of space or solar radiation which disabled an electronic component in the ion propulsion system.  A different ion thruster with an unaffected electronic controller was then used and thrusting continued from 15 September 2014 onwards.  However the temporary anomaly has delayed the spacecraft’s arrival at Ceres by one month.  The mission, which was launched in September 2007, will now arrive at Ceres in April 2015.

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