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Cosmic Ray Delays Spacecraft Headed for Dwarf Planet
Late last week, an errant, high-energy particle struck part of the Dawn spacecraft‘s electrical system, disabling the NASA craft’s ion thrusters and sending it into safe mode on Sept. 11. The Dawn mission team spent the weekend investigating what had happened, and after four days were able to restart Dawn’s journey to dwarf planet Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt.
As a result of that cosmic strike, Dawn’s science orbits around Ceres will begin in April 2015, about a month later than expected*. But not to worry.
“The spacecraft is healthy,” says Marc Rayman, Dawn Mission Director and chief engineer. “We are still on course for Ceres, and we have every expectation of