NASA's Dawn spacecraft has delivered the closest-yet views of Ceres, capturing in unprecedented detail images of Ceres' mysterious four-mile tall mountain. "Dawn is performing flawlessly in this new orbit as it conducts its ambitious exploration," said Dawn's chief engineer Marc Rayman.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has delivered the closest-yet views of Ceres, which capture in unprecedented detail Ceres’ four-mile tall, conical mountain, as well as craters and narrow, braided fractures.
“Dawn is performing flawlessly in this new orbit as it conducts its ambitious exploration. The spacecraft’s view is now three times as sharp as in its previous mapping orbit, revealing exciting new details of this intriguing dwarf planet,” said Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
Dawn is currently orbiting at an altitude of 915 miles above Ceres surface – three times closer than it was a few weeks ago, when it captured stunning footage of a mysterious four-mile-tall mountain, sporting bright streaks on its steep slopes.
At this distance, Dawn takes 11 days to capture and return images of Ceres’ whole surface. Over the next two months, the spacecraft will map the entirety of Ceres six times.
Located between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres is the largest, most massive object in the main asteroid belt, with an average diameter of about 584 miles – about the same width as Texas at its most distant points (660 miles).
On March 6, 2015, Dawn made history as the first mission to reach a dwarf planet, and the first to orbit two distinct extraterrestrial targets.