Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft prepares to orbit the dwarf planet Ceres.
THE MYSTERIOUS WORLD OF CERES
Ceres is the closest dwarf planet to the sun and is located in the asteroid belt, making it the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system.
Ceres is the smallest of the bodies currently classified as a ‘dwarf planet’.
Scientists think Ceres may have an ocean and possibly an atmosphere.
It lies less than three times as far as Earth from the sun – close enough to feel the warmth of the star allowing ice to melt and reform.
Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft has been making its way to Ceres from the asteroid Vesta since September 2012. It is due to land next year.
There is high interest in the mission because Ceres is one possible destination for human colonisation given its abundance of ice, water, and minerals.
Ceres continues to baffle astronomers as the Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the dwarf planet.
This image below was taken by the Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on February 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 km). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin.
Also, the strange white glow can be seen.