Hi Ceres! You lovely little dwarf planet, you. You’ve spent the past few billion years just chillin’ in the asteroid belt, but NASA Dawn is closing in to survey you. We’ll find out how you’re flashing us from your surface soon.
In case you haven’t been following it, NASA’s Dawn mission set out to survey two baby planets (Vesta and Ceres) in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn visited Vesta from 2011-2012 (you can take a tour of Vesta here), and then headed for Ceres. The spacecraft uses a nifty ion drive that is low powered, so it takes a while for it to move between solar bodies.
Dawn reached Ceres in March of 2015, and is currently setting into a survey orbit pattern. Once the survey is complete, though, Dawn will be remaining at Ceres. NASA’s mission journal is available for view, if you’d like more info on what they’ve accomplished and the plans for the survey.
For more entertainment and information on the mission, follow I_C_Ceres and Dwarf Planet Ceres on Twitter. Yes, there’s two, and they’re cute. They both post and reshare information on space exploration and events of interest. Check them out!