Apr 29, 2017 08:02 AM EDT
NASA's Dawn Spacecraft That Orbits Ceres Has Encountered A Technical Glitch, Mission Was To Study Mysterious Occator Crater [VIDEO]
The Dawn spacecraft of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that orbits Ceres has encountered a technical glitch. One of the two remaining reaction wheels of the spacecraft stopped working. Nonetheless, the mission of the Dawn spacecraft was to study the mysterious Occator crater on Ceres by positioning itself directly between the Sun and the crater.
NASA experts realized the Dawn spacecraft had lost the wheel during routine communications. Upon learning Dawn spacecraft wheel malfunction, the space agency returned the spacecraft to safe mode and regular flight configuration. This is the third wheel the spacecraft has lost since it launched.
The technical glitch of the Dawn spacecraft took place on April 22 after the spacecraft finished its 5-hour segment of ion thrusting. Nevertheless, such malfunctions have not excessively impacted the probe at Ceres, which has been orbiting the 950 kilometer wide dwarf planet since March 2015. Dawn chief engineer and mission director, Marc Rayman, made it known that Dawn mission team members know how to maneuver without the reaction wheels, Space reported.
Meanwhile, NASA claimed that observations made for the Ceres' crater from the current position of the Dawn spacecraft could fetch new insights about the luminous material in the crater's center. The Dawn spacecraft controls its orientation in the frictionless space by electrically changing the speed at which the wheels spin.
That being said, the Dawn spacecraft already completed its main mission in June 2016, and the spacecraft is now in an extended probe. NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been observing the dwarf planet for over two years. Prior to this, NASA's Dawn spacecraft was orbiting the giant asteroid Vesta and beaming essential photos and data back to Earth, Zee News reported.
Moreover, Vesta is the largest protoplanet which is still in existence. Vesta is sitting in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. Ceres is also located in this part of the solar system.
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