The Dawn Spacecraft Is Closing in on Dwarf Planet Ceres

Illustration for article titled The Dawn Spacecraft Is Closing in on Dwarf Planet Ceres

NASA's Dawn spacecraft is currently en route to the asteroid belt where it will rendezvous with the region's largest celestial body, Ceres. As a sneak preview, the spacecraft has snapped its best-yet image of the dwarf planet.

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The image was snapped at a distance of 740,000 miles (1.2 million km) from Ceres. The dwarf planet features an average diameter of about 590 miles (950 km).

Illustration for article titled The Dawn Spacecraft Is Closing in on Dwarf Planet Ceres
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Illustration for article titled The Dawn Spacecraft Is Closing in on Dwarf Planet Ceres

At 9-pixels wide, the image isn't much. It doesn't hold a candle to the one previously snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope:

Illustration for article titled The Dawn Spacecraft Is Closing in on Dwarf Planet Ceres

But just wait until Dawn arrives at Ceres. In early 2015, the spacecraft will begin delivering images at much higher resolution.

Since launching in 2007, Dawn has visited Vesta, a giant protoplanet currently located 104 million miles (168 million kilometers) away from Ceres.

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Images: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

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DISCUSSION

AtomicSamuraiRobot
Atomic Samurai Robot

Obligatory

That's no moon.