History Is Made Today As Dawn Arrives At Ceres

Image of the 600-mile-wide Ceres captured by Dawn on March 1, 2015. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

Image of the 600-mile-wide Ceres captured by Dawn on March 1, 2015. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

It’s official – NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has arrived at the dwarf planet Ceres! Today, March 6 2015, at 7:39 a.m. EST (12:39 UTC) Dawn was captured by Ceres’ gravity at a distance of 38,000 miles (61,155 km). Mission controllers at JPL received a signal from the spacecraft at 8:36 a.m. EST (13:36 UTC) that Dawn was healthy and thrusting with its ion engine, indicating Dawn had entered orbit as planned.

Illustration of Dawn's arrival (far left) and orbit at Ceres. (NASA/JPL)

Illustration of Dawn’s arrival (far left) and orbit at Ceres. (NASA/JPL)

Over the next several weeks Dawn will move into a lower orbit around Ceres, making observations along the way.

Dawn is the first spacecraft to successfully enter orbit around two worlds* and the first to orbit a dwarf planet. Its first target was the asteroid Vesta, which it orbited from July 2011 to September 2012. Now at Ceres two and a half years later, it will remain in orbit both during its primary science phase and beyond… Ceres will be Dawn’s permanent home.

“Since its discovery in 1801, Ceres was known as a planet, then an asteroid and later a dwarf planet. Now, after a journey of 3.1 billion miles and 7.5 years, Dawn calls Ceres home.”

–  Marc Rayman, Mission Director and Dawn chief engineer

Congratulations Dawn and the mission team! Follow the Dawn mission news here (and of course right here on Lights in the Dark!)

Source: NASA/JPL

*The two worlds, Vesta and Ceres, are separate targeted worlds of a science mission. This does not include time spent orbiting Earth, for this mission or others, prior to departure burn.

About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on March 6, 2015, in Comets and Asteroids, Dwarf Planets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. How fascinating!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Dawn is the first spacecraft to successfully enter orbit around two worlds …”

    If you want to get technical, didn’t every Apollo mission to the moon enter a parking orbit around the Earth before heading to lunar orbit?


  3. Reblogged this on themonkseal and commented:
    another leap


  4. Good job Dawn !!
    But the real work will start soon…
    Jeff Barani from fence (France)


  5. Reblogged this on sleguizamon and commented:


  6. Reblogged this on Le Freak Show and commented:
    very nice indeed


  7. In anticipation of the final orbit, we created a simple page with the 50 top Ceres related web pages. This page is #38.


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