Stunning View Of Ceres Captured As Dawn Spacecraft Moves To A Higher Orbit

Posted: Nov 20 2016, 7:46am CST | by , Updated: Nov 20 2016, 8:53am CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Stunning Image of Ceres Captured as Dawn Spacecraft Moves to Higher Orbit
Occator crater, the home of Ceres' brightest spots, is seen in the image. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
 

The new images reveals the brightest area on dwarf planet in an unprecedented detail

Dawn spacecraft has captured a stunning view of Ceres while moving higher into the orbit. In the latest image, dwarf planet’s bright area stands out from the rest of the shadowy, cratered terrain, providing us with a unique view of the mysterious feature from an altogether different orbit.

The image is taken on October 16 during Dawn’s fifth science orbit. Dawn was hovering about 920 miles above Ceres when this image was taken. This is an altitude the spacecraft has reached earlier in October. 

“This image captures the wonder of soaring above this fascinating, unique world that Dawn is the first to explore.” Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer and mission director at NASA JPL said.

After studying Ceres from low-altitude orbits for several months, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is moving into higher orbits to take views of the dwarf planet from different angles. Dawn space probe has already provided a wealth of data and information while staying at low-altitude, just 240 miles above the Ceres.

The new image shows Ceres’ crater Occator in an unprecedented detail. Measuring 57 miles across and 2.5 miles deep, Occator contains the brightest area on Ceres. The area has been a subject of intense research since Dawn has entered the orbit of the dwarf planet in early 2015. However, the bright spots on crater remain a mystery.

On November 4, Dawn has begun spiraling upward to about 4,500 miles from Ceres for its sixth science obrit. The angle between the orbit plane and the sun will be different at that time. So, spacecraft will have another different view of the surface. By reaching higher orbit at Ceres, Dawn will use less hydrazine and fuel as the spacecraft will struggle less with Ceres’ gravitational pull. 

Dawn is expected to reach the next orbit in December this year.

 

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