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Dawn at Ceres: Imagery from a Changing Orbit

1 Jun 2018, 17:14 UTC
Dawn at Ceres: Imagery from a Changing Orbit
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I’m looking forward to the buildup as New Horizons gets ever closer to Kuiper Belt Object MU69 and whatever surprises will attend the flyby. But the ongoing operations of the Dawn spacecraft orbiting Ceres equally command the attention. The image below is one of the first images Dawn has returned in more than a year, a stark view of surface features taken on May 16 of this year. The altitude here is 440 kilometers — for scale, the large crater near the horizon is about 35 kilometers wide. The foreground crater is about 120 kilometers from that crater, within a jumbled landscape suggestive of ancient terrain underlying the more recent impact.

Image: On the way to its lowest-ever and final orbit, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is observing Ceres and returning new compositional data (infrared spectra) and images of the dwarf planet’s surface, such as this dramatic image of Ceres’ limb. Dawn has returned many limb images of Ceres in the course of its mission. These images offer complementary perspective to the images generally obtained by imaging the surface directly beneath the spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.
As with Pluto/Charon, so with Ceres — we’ve named many surface features, and can ...

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