NASA has announced that after its launch 11 years ago, the agency’s Dawn spacecraft has finally run out of fuel.
Dawn missed scheduled communications sessions with NASA on 31 October and 1 November, with the flight team eventually concluding that the spacecraft had finally run out of hydrazine.
Without fuel, Dawn cannot control its orientation and is unable to train its antennae on Earth or turn its solar panels to the Sun to recharge.
Dawn’s mission was to visit the two largest objects in the main asteroid belt, Vesta and Ceres, and it now remains in orbit around the latter.
NASA said that the data collect by the spacecraft was invaluable for researchers examining the history of the solar system.
“The astounding images and data that Dawn collected from Vesta and Ceres are critical to understanding the history and evolution of our solar system,” said NASA Science Mission Directorate associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen.