Spacecraft Dawn from NASA has sent across new images of the dwarf planet Ceres. These images are the first in the series that will be transmitted during the period when the spacecraft further approaches to Ceres.
Ceres, named after Roman Goddess of agriculture and fertility was discovered in 1801 by an Italian priest named Giuseppe Piazzi. The dwarf planet is known to have an average diameter of 590 miles (950 kilometers). Supposedly it should contain a huge amount of ice. Dawn, in the coming weeks, will transmit better quality images of Ceres before orbiting this dwarf planet on March 6, the complete duration of the study is about 16 months.
“We know so much about the solar system and yet so little about dwarf planet Ceres. Now, Dawn is ready to change that,” said Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
By the end of January, Dawn should be able to deliver sharpest ever images of Ceres with much better resolution.
Andreas Nathues, principal investigator for the framing camera team at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Germany stated that the most recent image sent by Dawn points out at the first surface structures like craters.
The most interesting feature of Ceres is; it is the largest body in the asteroid belt, the one lies between Mars and Jupiter. Some experts suggest that it is possible that the surface of Ceres may mask an ocean. With the successful mission of Dawn to Ceres, for a dwarf planet, it will the first-time visit by any spacecraft.
Chris Russell, lead researcher for the Dawn mission from the University of California, Los Angeles confirmed that the team is very excited, and they are looking forward to investigating every new upcoming detail about Ceres.
Dawn has successfully transmitted more than 30,000 images of Vesta. Vesta with an average diameter of 326 miles (525 kilometers) is considered to be the second largest body in the asteroid belt. Dawn orbited Vesta between 2011- 2012.
NASA’s another spacecraft New Horizon will start exploring Pluto and its massive moon Charon on July 14. The spacecraft has started collecting data about mysterious Pluto since January 15. Also, recently a huge yet short lived burst of radio waves known as blitzars has been identified for the first time using Parkes Telescope.
So, scientists and astronomers from around the world are high on hopes that lots of surprises are likely to arrive in the near future.