Apr 29, 2017 06:02 AM EDT
Dawn spacecraft has returned to its normal function and is ready to approach asteroid Ceres from opposite direction. Last Sunday, April 23, two reaction wheels of the NASA's spacecraft experience malfunction.
The malfunction occurred during the maneuver to approach the Ceres from opposite direction, The NASA team found out the problem on the next day and fixed the problem immediately according to Mission status report from NASA. This is the third problem with its reaction wheel after the first one in 2010 and the second one in 2012.
Dawn has finished its primary mission last year and NASA continued to extend its mission afterward. The space probe experienced a problem with the remaining reaction wheel completing the ion thrusting segment to adjust its orbit to Ceres on April 22. This time, Dawn has only one reaction wheel left operational.
The reaction wheel is important to help Dawn adjusting and orienting its position according to CNET. The team has already anticipated the problem and prepared to countermeasure the problem during the maneuver. The NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory team reassigned control of the probe's orientation with the hydrazine thrusters and returned Dawn to its original position.
Dawn was launched in September 2007 as a spacecraft managed by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Its primary mission is to observe two dwarf planets in the asteroid belts, Vesta and Ceres. Three years after its launching, Dawn entered the orbit of Vesta on July 16, 2011. After conducting its 14 months of observation and headed for Ceres in 2012.
The spacecraft has been orbiting Ceres since March 6, 2015, and completed its 16 months of survey mission. Subsequently, NASA assigned the extended mission to Dawn in Ceres since June last year that will continue until Dawn exhaust its fuel. The team has not expected the space probe to remain operational for much longer.
Watch Dawn's latest footage from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as it orbited dwarf planet Ceres in an extended mission. The footage shows Occator crater on the Ceres below:
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