Stories, updates, insights, and original analysis from The Planetary Society.
Pushing ever farther into space, deeper into the asteroid belt, Dawn is continuing to progress smoothly on its solar system journey.
Dawn is outfitted with three ion thrusters, assigned the heartwarming names thruster #1, thruster #2, and thruster #3.
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 has devoted another month to thrusting with its ion propulsion system, ever with its sights set on its rendezvous with Vesta in July 2011.
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.
As Dawn continues its long solar system journey to match orbits with Vesta and later with Ceres, some readers may note a surprising trend in the statistics for the mission.
Today Dawn is 220 million kilometers (137 million miles) from the star at the solar system's center.
Dawn's mission continues to go very well, as the spacecraft nears the end of the longest coasting period of its astronomical journey.
The upgraded Dawn spacecraft is now traveling in a new direction in its orbit around the Sun.
Perhaps what is most noteworthy and satisfying since the last log is not what Dawn did, but rather what it did not do.
Dawn swooped close to Mars and then left it behind on a new course, having taken advantage of Mars's gravity.
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.
Having fulfilled all of its assignments for 2008, the Dawn spacecraft has been unusually quiescent recently.
The Dawn spacecraft is healthy and on course for its flyby of Mars early next year. The planet's gravity will help boost the probe on its way to rendezvous with Vesta.
The Dawn spacecraft continues on course and on schedule for its bold campaign to unexplored worlds.
On the first anniversary of its departure from Earth, Dawn continues with what it has been doing for most of its time in space. With the greatest patience, it is gently reshaping its orbit around the Sun with its ion propulsion system.
The Dawn spacecraft continues to make good progress on its adventure to unlock scientific secrets hidden deep in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter.
Dawn continues its flight through the solar system with all systems functioning well.