Dutch solar panels power orbit insertion of Dawn spacecraft around asteroid Vesta

Beautiful imagery is coming back from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, the first to orbit an asteroid in the solar system. The asteroid under study is Vesta, a 500 km diameter rock circling the sun in between Mars and Jupiter.
The Dawn spacecraft is equipped by huge solar panels, made by Dutch Space in Leiden. These provide the power for Dawn's ion engines which have a thrust of 90mN. This thrust is small and wouldn't be able to launch something significant from the surface of the Earth. In free space however, such small thrusts, maintained for long periods of time, is the most mass effective way of getting things around in the solar system. For example, getting things in orbit around planetary bodies.
Interested to build your own Dawn spacecraft? Start practicing here!

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