NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft Hit by Glitch on Extended Mission

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft encountered a glitch while preparing for its scheduled observation of Ceres on April 29 from an “opposition” position, directly between the dwarf planet’s mysterious Occator Crater and the sun.

The malfunction will not significantly impact Dawn’s rest of the extended mission, NASA said in a statement on Wednesday.

One of Dawn’s two remaining reaction wheels stopped functioning on April 23. By electrically changing the speed at which these gyroscope-like devices spin, Dawn controls its orientation in the zero-gravity, frictionless conditions of space.

The team discovered the situation during a scheduled communications session on April 24, diagnosed the problem, and returned the spacecraft to its standard flight configuration, still with hydrazine control, on April 25.

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