After being successfully sucked into Ceres’ orbit, what’s next for NASA’s Dawn probe?

March 19, 2015 3:06 AM

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According to a NASA statement, the agency’s Dawn probe has been snared by the gravitational pull of the dwarf planet Ceres. The capture took place on March 6 at about 7:39 a.m. EST, when Dawn was about 38,000 miles away. Less than an hour later, Dawn signaled that it was functioning normally and that its ion engine was burning, indicating that the orbital insertion had gone smoothly.

Upon its arrival at Ceres, Dawn is on the side of the dwarf planet facing away from the Sun. However, when the probe crosses to Ceres’ light side in the middle of April, it will send back sharp new images. The images’ resolution will increase as Dawn’s orbit becomes progressively lower.

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