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3/28/2006
10:49 AM
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NASA Resurrects Dawn Mission

NASA will go forward with a mission to orbit two of the largest asteroids orbiting the sun.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Monday resurrected an ambitious plan to reinstate the Dawn mission, a robotic exploration of two asteroids.

Earlier this month NASA scrapped the $446 million Dawn mission to orbit Ceres and Vesta, two of the largest asteroids orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter, nearly six months after it was put on hold because of cost overruns and technical problems.

Ceres, largest of the known asteroids, was discovered by Giuseppi Piazzi in 1801, and Vesta was discovered by Heinrich Wilhelm Matthus Olbers in 1807, according to NASA.

Technical problems and other difficulties pushed up the cost from its original estimate of $373 million. The decision to cancel Dawn was made March 2, 2006, after about $257 million already had been spent. The mission, originally approved in December 2001, was set for launch in June 2006.

NASA decided to review the cancelled project after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which managed the mission, made an appeal.

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