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NASA restarts canceled mission to two asteroids

Updated:
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ NASA decided Monday to restart a mission to explore two of the solar system's largest asteroids, just weeks after the project was killed because of budget woes.

The space agency earlier this month scrapped the $446 million Dawn mission to orbit the asteroids Ceres and Vesta, nearly a half year after it was put on hold because of cost overruns and technical problems.

NASA decided to review the cancellation after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which managed the mission, made an appeal.

``Our review determined the project team has made substantive progress on many of this mission's technical issues, and, in the end, we have confidence the mission will succeed,'' NASA Associate Administrator Rex Geveden, who lead the review panel, said in a statement.

Powered by a xenon ion engine, Dawn would be the first spacecraft to circle Ceres and Vesta, which are in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Ceres and Vesta are believed to have formed in different parts of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago, and studying them could provide clues to how the sun and planets formed.
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