NASA to Talk Triumphs and Fate of Dawn Asteroid Mission Today: Watch Live

NASA's Dawn spacecraft, seen here in an artist's illustration, will reach the end of its mission to the asteroid belt in 2018.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft, seen here in an artist's illustration, will reach the end of its mission to the asteroid belt in 2018. (Image credit: NASA)

NASA will hold a live "science chat" today (Sept. 7) to showcase the success of the Dawn spacecraft in the asteroid belt as the mission nears its end, and you can watch it live online. 

The Dawn spacecraft, which visited the huge asteroids Vesta and Ceres in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, is "approaching the end of its 11-year mission," NASA officials said in a statement. In today's webcast, which you can watch live here at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), NASA scientists are expected to review Dawn's greatest triumphs at Vesta and Ceres. [Dawn's Pictures: The Weird Bright Spots of Ceres]

The spacecraft is currently orbiting Ceres, the largest asteroid in the solar system that is also classified as a dwarf planet. Dawn is expected to end its mission in orbit there when it runs out of hydrazine fuel later this year. 

NASA's $466 million Dawn spacecraft launched in 2007 to explore the asteroid belt like never before. Using an ion propulsion system, the spacecraft first flew to the asteroid Vesta and studied the space rock from orbit in 2011 and 2012. Dawn then flew to Ceres, arriving in orbit around the dwarf planet in March 2015. 

In addition to its many discoveries about both asteroids — including strange, bright spots on Ceres that have been tantalizing photo targets — Dawn proved its ability to visit multiple objects in the solar system with its ion propulsion system. 

"The mission aided scientists in characterizing the early solar system and the processes that dominated its formation," NASA officials said in the statement. "Dawn is the only spacecraft to orbit two deep-space destinations, a feat enabled by the efficiency of the spacecraft's ion propulsion system."

Visit at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) for complete coverage of today's Dawn mission news.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.