Dawn usually interrupts ion thrusting once a week for about eight hours to point its main antenna to Earth. On November 30, however, instead of resuming thrusting, it dutifully followed different instructions that were stored onboard.
Dawn entered the main asteroid belt on November 13. As it ventures ever deeper into this vast collection of material between Mars and Jupiter, it may be tempting to think of the spacecraft constantly dodging asteroids.
Dawn is celebrating the second anniversary of leaving its home planet by engaging in the same function it has performed most of its time in space: with the utmost patience, it is using its ion propulsion system to gradually modify its orbit around the Sun.
Dawn continues to close in on Mars, ready for the gravitational slingshot that will help it on its expedition to the asteroid belt and its quest to gain insights into the evolution of the solar system.
Dawn continues on course for its pas de deux with Mars on February 17. The planet's gravity will gracefully assist the spacecraft on its way to rendezvous with its intended celestial partners Vesta and Ceres in the more distant asteroid belt.