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November 13, 2012
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- At Astrotech, technicians begin securing the sun shade over the high gain antenna on the Dawn spacecraft. Made of germanium kapton, the shade, which is RF transparent, is placed over the sensitive antenna to reflect and emit harmful solar radiation to prevent the antenna from being excessively heated. Dawn is scheduled to launch July 7 from Pad 17-B on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Dawn's goal is to characterize the conditions and processes of the solar system's earliest epoch by investigating in detail the largest protoplanets that have remained intact since their formations: asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres. They reside in the extensive zone between Mars and Jupiter together with many other smaller bodies, called the asteroid belt. Photo credit: NASA/George Shelton

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