NASA’s Dawn spaceshuttle that was launched way back in 2007 to investigate the two protoplanets present in our asteroid belt ,namely Ceres and Vesta is in the last leg of it’s mission.
The probe will reach very close to the biggest minor Planet Ceres in the near future. Dawn will be shifting into an orbit that will be just 35 kms above the protoplanet Ceres achieving the closet distance any other satellite has achieved in the past. The probe will now be able to capture some of best shots of the minor Planet that will allow the scientists to study Ceres in detail.
Ceres is located in the asteroid belt that is present between the orbit of Jupiter and Mars, but is slightly nearer to the orbit of Mars. The diameter of this protoplanet is 945 kms(approximately) and this makes it the biggest of the minor planets that lies within the Neptune’s orbit.
Carol Raymond, who is the lead investigator of the NASA’s Dawn mission quoted in a conference that he and his teammates are eagerly waiting for the detailed and clear images of Ceres from the probe for a better observation. He further added that this high resolution images will help them to come up with new characterstics of the minor planet and will also allow them to test their previously formulated theories. The Occator Crater present on the planet with strange white light has captured the attention of researchers making it an enticing topic for study. The scientists also hope to study the elemental composition of the Occater Crater and area lying around it that is collectively called as geological area to unfurl the intense geological conditions of the protoplanet.
At its nearest spot, the probe will be almost ten times closer to the minor planet Ceres, than it has ever been. Rayman also quoted that Dawn will be closest to any object in the solar system since the 2007 launch.
Dawn will not only send images of Ceres to the Earth but it will also utilise its tools to examine and understand the chemical composition of the minor planet’s top layer. Dawn has been circling around Ceres since March,2015. Earlier it was sent to the second biggest object in the asteroid belt that is known as Vesta. Dawn orbited around Vesta for a year during 2011-2012 after it’s launch in 2007. The 466$ Dawn mission will end it’s journey after orbiting Ceres.