If you’ve been wondering WHERE ARE THE NEW PICTURES OF CERES? Have a look at this video:
“This animation gives a three-dimensional view of Dawn’s complex approach to Ceres. The spacecraft deftly maneuvers into orbit with its ion propulsion system, flying to RC3 orbit, which is achieved when the thrust is turned off. (The size of Ceres is exaggerated compared to the size of the orbit here.) At the end, the viewpoint shifts to provide another perspective on the unique trajectory.”
Dawn’s capture and orbit insertion trajectory makes my eyes bug out – this is simply incredible!
This following image was taken on March 1st, shortly before the Dawn spacecraft maneuvered “behind” Ceres, giving only a view of its dark side:
This image was taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on March 1, 2015. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
From the video, it looks to be mid-April before Dawn will be in a position to see anything on Ceres. Even then, it may not be able to see anything until its ion engine ceases thrusting on April 23rd, and it begins intensive observations. I’m giving a lecture about the Dawn Mission at Ceres at Penguicon – April 24-26… new images and some interesting data would be very welcome!
Dawn’s approach trajectory. We are looking down on the north pole of Ceres. The sun is off the figure far to the left. When Dawn is on the right side of the figure, it only sees a crescent of Ceres, which is illuminated from the left. (The white circles are at one-day intervals.)
More: Dawn Mission Blog