Dawn is preparing to move to the final scientific orbit

Recently, the Dawn unit celebrated the three-year anniversary of being in orbit around Ceres. During this time, he performed over 1600 revolutions around the dwarf planet, mapping it completely and collecting a lot of information about the chemical composition of the surface and the internal structure.
Dawn is preparing for the transition to the final scientific orbit of Ceres, height, surface, mission, apparatus, orbit, around which, experts, apocenter, pericenter, ion, dwarf, planets, engine, will become, Therefore, orbits

Unfortunately, this year will be the last for the mission. Only one of the station’s four flywheels, the gyros, is still in working condition. To ensure a given orientation of Dawn in space, engineers have to use hydrazine engines. To date, the station has almost exhausted all available hydrazine. Therefore, the mission's experts decided to complete it on a positive note, finally transferring the device to a record orbit.
Dawn is preparing for the transition to the final scientific orbit of Ceres, height, surface, mission, apparatus, orbit, around which, experts, apocenter, pericenter, ion, dwarf, planets, engine, will become, Therefore, orbits

Dawn is now in orbit, known as XMO5. Its pericenter is located at an altitude of 4,400 km from the surface of Ceres, the apocenter is at an altitude of 24,300 km. On April 17, Dawn will activate the ion engine and begin to perform a carefully prepared maneuver to change the orbit.It is known that the mission’s experts went over 45 thousand different trajectories until they found the one that would allow to achieve the goal and meet the meager fuel reserves.
Dawn is preparing for the transition to the final scientific orbit of Ceres, height, surface, mission, apparatus, orbit, around which, experts, apocenter, pericenter, ion, dwarf, planets, engine, will become, Therefore, orbits

Comparison of XMO5 and XMO6 orbits
According to the plan, by May 14, the device will move to a new orbit XMO6, the pericenter of which will pass at an altitude of 375 km and the apocenter at an altitude of 4,800 km from the surface of Ceres. Next, Dawn will make 10 turns around the dwarf planet. Emphasis will be placed on the study of the southern hemisphere of Ceres, which is now summer.
Dawn is preparing for the transition to the final scientific orbit of Ceres, height, surface, mission, apparatus, orbit, around which, experts, apocenter, pericenter, ion, dwarf, planets, engine, will become, Therefore, orbits

Comparison of XMO6 and XMO7 orbits. The dotted line shows the closest orbit to the surface of Ceres, in which Dawn was at the end of 2015.
On May 31, Dawn re-activates the ion engine and moves to the final scientific orbit XMO7. Its apocenter will be at an altitude of 4000 km, and the pericenter will be at an altitude of only 35 km from the surface of Ceres. We must understand that the camera Dawn was not designed for shooting from such a height. At the time of passage of the pericenter, it will move at a speed of 1,690 km / h relative to the surface of the dwarf planet. Therefore, photographs taken during it will not be as clear and detailed as one would expect.The value of this orbit is that Dawn will be able to get much more detailed spectra of Ceres. This will significantly expand our knowledge of the composition of its surface.
Dawn is preparing for the transition to the final scientific orbit of Ceres, height, surface, mission, apparatus, orbit, around which, experts, apocenter, pericenter, ion, dwarf, planets, engine, will become, Therefore, orbits

XMO7 will be the last scientific orbit of Dawn. When the device has exhausted all the hydrazine, the mission’s specialists will activate the ion engine for the last time and transfer it to a burial orbit, where it can be located for hundreds of years without the risk of a collision with Ceres. It is assumed that this event will occur in the second half of this year.

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