NASA's Dawn Gets Closest-Ever View of Dwarf Planet Ceres

What the mysterious dwarf planet looks like up close.

ByAlyssa Newcomb
February 05, 2015, 2:17 PM
PHOTO: This image is one several images NASA's Dawn spacecraft took on approach to Ceres on Feb. 4, 2015 at a distance of about 90,000 miles (145,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet.
This image is one several images NASA's Dawn spacecraft took on approach to Ceres on Feb. 4, 2015 at a distance of about 90,000 miles (145,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

— -- NASA's Dawn spacecraft is even closer to getting an up-close view of the mysterious dwarf planet Ceres.

The latest photo was taken from 90,000 miles away on Wednesday as Dawn closed in on Ceres. The goal for next month is to place a satellite in orbit around the dwarf planet, which is the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

It will be the first time the spacecraft has visited a dwarf planet. NASA launched a mission to explore the 590-mile diameter cosmic mass in 2007.

The mission is expected to continue for 16 months as researchers analyze data about Ceres, which is thought to be icy and possibly contain an ocean. Researchers said images taken from the closer view show what appear to be craters -- something they're eager to get a closer look at as Dawn edges toward its destination.

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