Dawn, the spacecraft send by NASA has begun its course to approach the Dwarf planet, ‘Ceres’. The space craft is closing in on the dwarf planet, and it has also snapped some of the first image of the planet, which shows possible craters on the surface.
‘Ceres’ is the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It has an average diameter of 590 miles (950 kilometers).
Upon its discovery in 1801, it was widely considered as the planet by many space experts, but later as the studies developed, scientists came to the conclusion that it is a dwarf planet which lies between the Mars and the Jupiter.
Now, scientists consider ‘Ceres’ as a protoplanet. As per astronomers, a protoplanet is basically a planetary embryo, which will get formed inside a star’s protoplanetary disc during the formation of solar system. Scientists believe that studying ‘Ceres’ will give some very crucial information about our solar system.
Dawn was launched in 2007 by NASA. The main purpose of this spacecraft is to study the two largest objects in the asteroid belt. Apart from ‘Ceres’, Dawn will also study protoplanet ‘Vesta’.
Andreas Nathues, the lead investigator for the framing camera team at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research said that the latest images sent by Dawn hint at first surface features such as craters.
As per reports, the image was taken on January 13, 2015, and it was 238,000 miles away from Ceres. The next set of images is expected to arrive by the end of this month.