NASA's Dawn spacecraft is now closing in on its first science-collecting orbit of Ceres, the uncharted dwarf planet that sits in our solar system's asteroid belt. It has spent a month on the dark side of the planet since entering its orbit, and just days ago it released its first images since March. The animation above represents the last batch of photos taken for the purpose of navigating Dawn into its closer orbit. In a few days, the spacecraft will be close enough to start collecting data and taking even better photos of the planet.
The shots were taken on April 14 and 15 from 14,000 miles above Ceres's northern hemisphere. In the last few frames of the animation, you can catch the bright feature known as "spot 5." It actually turned out to be two spots -- two highly reflective areas located inside a large crater -- but scienti...
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