Dawn asteroid exploring spacecraft
This is cool. I’ve thought for years that we should be spending a lot more time and money investigating the asteroid belt than we spend sending missions to planets. To me it’s all about practicality. It is easier to explore the asteroid belt because it’s closer, there’s more to go see and the gravity wells involved are tiny so we can move around. But more importantly, WE CAN USE THEM AS RESOURCES TO STOP RAPING THE EARTH!!!

Cool story:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) — NASA’s Dawn spacecraft rocketed away Thursday toward an unprecedented double encounter in the asteroid belt.

The Dawn spacecraft will travel 3 billion miles to explore the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Scientists are hoping Dawn will shed light on the early solar system by exploring an asteroid and a dwarf planet.

It is the world’s first attempt to journey to a celestial body and orbit it, then travel to another and circle it as well. Ion-propulsion engines, once confined to science fiction, are making Dawn’s trip possible.

“To me, this feels like the first real interplanetary spaceship,” said Marc Rayman, chief engineer. “This is the first time we’ve really had the capability to go someplace, stop, take a detailed look, spend our time there and then leave.”