Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft has ended its mission after running out of fuel.

According to Nasa, the spacecraft is no longer in a position to keep its antennae pointed towards Earth after exhausting its fuel, preventing it from communicating or turning its solar panels to the Sun to recharge.

Dawn studied two largest bodies in the asteroid belt, namely Vesta and Ceres.

Launched in 2007, Dawn is currently orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres, which will be the future home for the spacecraft.

Nasa Washington Science Mission Directorate associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said: “The astounding images and data that Dawn collected from Vesta and Ceres are critical to understanding the history and evolution of our solar system.”

In 2011, Dawn arrived at Vesta, thereby becoming the first spacecraft to orbit a body in the region between Mars and Jupiter. The spacecraft was designed to travel 4.3 billion miles of distance in space.

“In many ways, Dawn’s legacy is just beginning.”

In 2015, Dawn started orbiting Ceres, a dwarf planet that is also the largest in the asteroid belt.

Dawn features four science experiments to collect and transmit data to Earth, allowing scientists to compare Vesta and Ceres that evolved very differently.

The spacecraft also provided insight into the importance of location in the formation and evolution of objects in the early solar system.

It also supported the idea that dwarf planets could have had oceans in their past, and potentially still do.

Nasa Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) principal investigator Carol Raymond said: “In many ways, Dawn’s legacy is just beginning.

“Dawn’s datasets will be deeply mined by scientists working on how planets grow and differentiate, and when and where life could have formed in our solar system.

“Ceres and Vesta are important to the study of distant planetary systems, too, as they provide a glimpse of the conditions that may exist around young stars.”

JPL currently manages the Dawn mission for Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.