A new view of Ceres, taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on May 23, shows
finer detail is becoming visible on the dwarf planet. The spacecraft
snapped the image at a distance of 3,200 miles (5,100 kilometers) with a
resolution of 1,600 feet (480 meters) per pixel. The image is part of a
sequence taken for navigational purposes.
After transmitting these images to Earth on May 23, Dawn resumed
ion-thrusting toward its second mapping orbit. On June 3, Dawn will
enter this orbit and spend the rest of the month observing Ceres from
2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) above the surface. Each orbit during this
time will be about three days, allowing the spacecraft to conduct an
intensive study of Ceres.
Dawn is the first mission to visit a dwarf planet, and the first to
orbit two distinct solar system targets. It studied the protoplanet
Vesta for 14 months in 2011 and 2012, and arrived at Ceres on March 6,
Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission
Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's
Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in
Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission
science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the
spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar
System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical
Institute are international partners on the mission team.