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November 13, 2012
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- At Astrotech, the Dawn spacecraft is on display for a media showing. On each side are the folded solar array panels. The "box" in the upper center is the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, which is designed to measure how much radiation of different "colors" is reflected or emitted by an object. At the bottom, under cover, is one of the ion propulsion thrusters. 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/Kim Shiflett

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