asteroid belt

[UPDATE 1/13/16 10:01 AM EST]

NASA has released brand new close up images of Ceres, captured by the Dawn spacecraft in late December 2015. These images (below) show all new details of several craters in the dwarf planet’s surface, which have fascinated the agency’s scientists for months.

Among these new images, a closer look at the Kupalo Crater, a very young impact site on the surface of the planet, as well as a look at the floor of the Dantu Crater, which may have been formed by cooling impact melt. A young impact crater on our own Moon has similar features.

NASA researchers will be studying these new images very closely in hopes they lead to further understanding of the strange “bright spots” that appeared in previous images of the Occator Crater.

Kupalo Crater PIA20191_hires Dantu Crater PIA20194_ip

[ORIGINAL POST 12/8/15 04:43 PM EST]

In March, the Dawn spacecraft arrived at the dwarf planet Ceres, embarking on a months-long mission to capture up close images of the tiny world. In mid-December, it will reach its lowest orbit, capturing a high-resolution look at the surface of the dwarf planet, and Slooh will have the latest images as soon as they’re released.

Dawn began its journey way back in September of 2007, when it was launched from Earth on a four year trip across the solar system to reach the minor planet/asteroid Vesta. Once Dawn had completed its stay, it took off on the second leg of its journey, a 2015 arrival at Ceres. On Monday, December 7th, the spacecraft reached its lowest orbit so far, just 240 miles above the planet’s surface (closer than the International Space Station is to Earth). Now the team back here on Earth will measure its orbit and make any necessary changed before snapping the closest images yet of the planet.

NASA is expected to release those images sometime this month, and here at Slooh we’re preparing to go live as soon as they do. Once they’re released, we’ll host a live broadcast to tell you everything you need to know, complete with expert commentary from our Slooh astronomers, and even a special guest from the Dawn mission team.

Check back often for updates.

Dawn's mission trajectory

Dawn’s Mission Trajectory Courtesy: NASA