Dawn continues its flight through the asteroid belt, steadily heading toward its July rendezvous with Vesta, where it will take up residence for a year. On January 10, Dawn performed some of the activities that it will execute in its low altitude mapping orbit (LAMO) at Vesta.
Dawn is now so far from the sun that even with its tremendous solar arrays, it does not receive enough sunlight to generate sufficient electrical power to operate all systems and still achieve maximum thrust.
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.