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Web Extra: Dawn explores the biggest asteroids

Before heading for Ceres, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft spent 14 months learning about its rockier neighbor, Vesta.
RELATED TOPICS: CERES | VESTA | DAWN
Vesta
By the time NASA’s Dawn mission reached the dwarf planet Ceres in March 2015, it had already accomplished as much as is typically expected in the lifetime of an average spacecraft. But Dawn is not an average spacecraft.

The interplanetary voyager launched in 2007 and used ion propulsion to wind its way across the solar system, building up speed with a gravity assist from Mars in 2009.

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