Dawn will be the first mission to successfully visit a dwarf planet."Dawn is about to make history. Our team is ready and eager to find out what Ceres has in store for us," said Robert Mase, project manager for the Dawn mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, in a statement.

Recent images show numerous craters and unusual bright spots that scientists believe tell how Ceres, the first object discovered in our solar system's asteroid belt, formed and whether its surface is changing.

As the spacecraft spirals into closer and closer orbits around the dwarf planet, researchers will be looking for signs that these strange features are changing, which would suggest current geological activity.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft took these images of dwarf planet Ceres from about 40,000 kms away.Ceres appears half in shadow because of the current position of the spacecraft relative to the dwarf planet and the sun.

“By studying Vesta and Ceres, we will gain a better understanding of the formation of our solar system, especially the terrestrial planets and most importantly the Earth," Carol Raymond, deputy project scientist at JPL, concluded.


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