Spacecraft's first picture of asteroid target.

December 6, 2014 12:15 PM

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That picture may not look like much at first glance, but it’s actually very exciting: That is Ceres, the largest asteroid in the solar system, as seen by the Dawn spacecraft, currently on its way there for a rendezvous next spring!

This picture was taken by Dawn’s framing camera when it was 1.2 million km (about 740,000 miles) from Ceres on Dec. 1, 2014. It’s a calibration image; a long exposure was used so stars could be seen, and Ceres was overexposed. A close-up is shown in the inset; the asteroid is about 9 pixels across.

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