The NASA Dawn spacecraft has spent more than a month on the dark side of dwarf planet Ceres as it performs a complicated dance with Ceres’ gravity before entering into a circular orbit around the dwarf planet. On April 10, with the limb of the Ceres coming into view, Dawn captured several images of the Ceres’ north polar region. Taken at a distance of 33,000 km (21,000 mi), they represent the highest-resolution views of Ceres to date; Future images of Ceres will show surface features at increasingly higher resolutions.
Ceres has an average diameter of about 950 km (590 mi), and is the most massive object in the main asteroid belt. Ceres comprises about 1/3 the total mass of all the bodies in the main asteroid belt, and its composition is similar to the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn.
Using its ion propulsion system, Dawn is slowly maneuvering into its first science orbit at Ceres, which it achieve on April 23. The spacecraft will orbit at a distance of 13,500 km (8,400 mi) from the Ceres until May 9. Afterward, it will make its way to consecutively lower orbits.
Source: JPL News & Events