Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft is to begin orbiting Ceres, the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Having been launched in 2007, Dawn spent a year from 2011-2012 orbiting Vesta – the asteroid belt’s second-biggest object – as part of a mission to understand how planets were formed. Now she’s moving on to Ceres.
Scientists have been speculating that bright lights spotted recently on Ceres’ surface could be light reflections from ice or evidence of volcanic activity.
Either that, or the good burghers of Ceres City are preparing a spectacular welcome party for Dawn’s fly-by, with an elaborate carnival, a fireworks display and possibly a laser light show. Not many people drop by Ceres, so we can only surmise that they’re pretty darn excited to see someone, even if it is only Probey Dawn enjoying one last huzzah before her mission ends in July.
Click on the graphic for an expanded view.