What is Dawn doing?

April 1st, 2015

Earlier this month I was aglow with anticipation as Dawn reached orbit around Ceres. At Coalwork we even had it marked on the public calendar thinking it’d be a historic event.

I expected a live stream. There was none. I expected a live audio stream. There was none. There wasn’t so much as a blog post on the Dawn blog. Just a tweet or two.

This doesn’t make this mission reaching its goal any less historic… though a bit anticlimactic. Anyway, the mission is far from over. It turns out Dawn is just getting into position and that first arrival was just the beginning of a series of maneuvers:

For now, however, Dawn is not taking pictures. Even after it entered orbit, its momentum carried it to a higher altitude, from which it is now descending. From March 2 to April 9, so much of the ground beneath it is cloaked in darkness that the spacecraft is not even peering at it. Instead, it is steadfastly looking ahead to the rewards of the view it will have when its long, leisurely, elliptical orbit loops far enough around to glimpse the sunlit surface again.

So, don’t expect any pictures until mid-April.