|Next stop: Ceres.
Last week the robotic Dawn spacecraft ended its year-long mission to asteroid
Vesta, becoming the first spacecraft ever to visit this far off world located between Mars and Jupiter, in the Solar System's
main asteroid belt.
Many of the best images taken by Dawn at Vesta have been compiled into the
above encompassing view.
Vesta shows evidence of being a leftover from the early years of our Solar System, a
building block for rocky planets like
Vesta's ancient surface shows heavy cratering and
long troughs likely created by huge impacts.
The minor planet's low gravity allows for
surface features like
huge cliffs and a large mountain that reaches twice the height of Earth's
Mount Everest, visible at the image bottom.
Vesta, however, spanning about 500 kilometers across, is only the second most massive object in the asteroid belt.
And so, two weeks ago, Dawn fired its gentle
and has begun chasing the most massive:
If everything goes as planned, Dawn will reach Ceres in
quite different to the distant telescope --
but what will Dawn find?
MPS, DLR, IDA