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November 13, 2012
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- At Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., workers guide the upper transportation canister toward the Dawn spacecraft in the background. The canister will be lowered onto the lower segments and attached. The canister will protect the spacecraft and booster during transfer to Launch Pad 17-B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS). During its nearly decade-long mission, the Dawn mission will study the asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres, celestial bodies believed to have accreted early in the history of the solar system. To carry out its scientific mission, the Dawn spacecraft will carry a visible camera, a visible and infrared mapping spectrometer, and a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, whose data will be used in combination to characterize these bodies. In addition to the three instruments, radiometric and optical navigation data will provide data relating to the gravity field and thus bulk properties and internal structure of the two bodies. Data returned from the Dawn spacecraft could provide opportunities for significant breakthroughs in our knowledge of how the solar system formed. Launch via a Delta II rocket is scheduled in a window from 7:25 to 7:54 a.m. Sept. 26 from CCAFS. Photo credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

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