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Space exploration - Dawn spacecraft entering Ceres orbit; Dawn space probe; ion drive; NSTAR ion engine; Dwarf Planet Ceres; plumes, asteroid belt; main belt; small Solar System body - Space Art Illustration
 

Dawn enters Ceres orbit

On 6 March 2015 the unmanned Dawn spacecraft went into orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres. The 65 foot long, 2.5 ton probe was launched from the Earth in 2007, passed Mars in 2009, and went into orbit around the protoplanet Vesta in July 2011 where it stayed until September 2012. Dawn currently remains in orbit around Ceres.

This illustration, created prior to Dawn's reconnaissance of Ceres, imagines Ceres as appearing similar to the Earth's Moon, heavily cratered with the addition of surface water ice and hypothesized plumes of ice crystals from water geysers on its surface.

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Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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