November 1, 2018 — Dawn's Long and Successful Mission Concludes
Dawn depleted its hydrazine propellant on Oct. 31, exploring dwarf planet Ceres to the very end. Without the hydrazine, the ship cannot control its orientation in space, so it can no longer point its solar arrays at the Sun to generate electrical power nor its antenna to Earth. The indication that the mission had concluded was the loss of the spacecraft's radio signal at the Deep Space Network (DSN). Mission controllers and the DSN continued to search in order to eliminate other possible explanations.
Dawn performed superbly to the end of its mission and lasted longer than anticipated.
Additional information is in this news release. The depletion of hydrazine had been predicted for quite some time, and the two August Dawn Journals describe still more about the end of the mission and the long-term fate of this remarkable spacecraft.
Thank you for reading the mission status reports. For at least the next couple of decades, and probably much longer, Dawn's status is that this former interplanetary ambassador from Earth is an inert celestial monument to the power of human ingenuity, creativity, and curiosity in orbit around one of the alien worlds it unveiled, a lasting reminder that our passion for bold adventures and our noble aspirations to know the cosmos can take us very, very far beyond the confines of our humble home.