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NASA: Dawn Performing ‘Flawlessly’ on Ceres

posted: 04/08/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Dawn spacecraft approaching Ceres
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An artist's rendering of NASA's Dawn spacecraft approaching Ceres.
NASA/JPL

Just over one month into its Ceres mission, NASA's Dawn spacecraft is performing "flawlessly", the agency said in a news release.

With all major systems in good health, Dawn's ion engine is seamlessly guiding it into a circular orbit around the dwarf planet. The spacecraft is approximately 26,000 miles above the surface of Ceres and is currently descending to an altitude of 8,400 miles. Dawn is expected to settle into its first science orbit on April 23, when it will launch an "intensive prime science campaign", according to NASA.

Throughout the mission, Dawn will continue to send back detailed photographs of the dwarf planet's surface, with special attention paid to the bright spots first observed earlier this year.

Ceres is the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system; it lies in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. In January 2014, NASA and European Space Agency astronomers detected plumes water vapor, which may indicate the presence of a subterranean ocean.

Click here for more information from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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