Start of dwarf planet mission delayed after small mix-up

Apr 25, 2015 1:35 PM by News Staff

LOS ANGELES (AP) - NASA says observations of a dwarf planet have been delayed slightly after a communication glitch.

The Dawn spacecraft circling dwarf planet Ceres was supposed to kick off its science campaign Friday morning, but it didn't receive a command from ground controllers as expected.

The space agency said the spacecraft briefly went into safe mode, suspending activities while in contact with Earth. This delayed the start of the mission until Friday night.

Scientists said the 16-hour delay won't affect the overall mission.

Dawn entered orbit around Ceres last month after a nearly eight-year journey powered by ion propulsion engines. On Thursday, it settled into an orbit 8,400 miles above the surface of Ceres as planned.

Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is Dawn's second stop.

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