Image Credit & Copyright: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Below you will find many related links including NASA/JPL live DAWN tracker, DAWN Image galleries and a live Ceres and Vesta tracker.
See that image? That’s the best image we have of the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system but these images are going to look a whole lot more interesting soon enough.
I know the audience is understandably captivated by Rosetta as the mission is literally only one week away from its target comet, the extremely interesting 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimanko or as it’s lovingly nicknamed “Cherry-Gerry.” For more info and links on the Rosetta mission: http://danspace77.com/2014/07/10/esas-incredible-rosetta-spacecraft-nears-its-target/
That being said, let’s not forget about NASA/Orbital Sciences ION powered DAWN mission, which is set to arrive at dwarf planet Ceres in early 2015.
DAWN was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) Space Launch Complex-17B (SLC-17B) on September 27, 2007 in the nose of a ULA Boeing Delta II rocket set to unlock the mysteries of asteroid 4 Vesta and dwarf planet, former asteroid 1 Ceres. After a gravity assist from Mars (and some great images for the road) on February 17, 2009 it reached Vesta on July 16, 2011 where it went into orbit and gathered incredible amounts of data, giving us a never before seen view of the Roman virgin goddess of home and hearth. It remained in orbit, delivering incredible imagery until September 5, 2012 when DAWN departed and set off for Ceres where it is scheduled to arrive and enter into orbit on February 15, 2015 and open our eyes to one of the current mysteries of the inner solar system. That mission will carry it through late 2015 or early 2016.
NOTE: The DAWN mission once Ceres is reached will become not only the first spacecraft to reach each of the two bodies; it will become the first spacecraft in history to orbit two separate extraterrestrial planetary bodies. Stay tuned because this is going to get good as it seems every new arrival, every new image to include what Rosetta is currently experiencing is a jaw dropping experience. Especially, since it’s recently been discovered that Ceres is an icy world with confirmations of water vapor in its thin atmosphere.
Here’s the post I created earlier in the year to highlight the opposition and conjunction of Vesta & Ceres. It’s got some more info on the two bodies if you’re so inclined: http://danspace77.com/2014/04/06/ceres-vesta-reach-opposition-this-month/
NASA/JPL DAWN Main Mission Page: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/
NASA/JPL Where is DAWN Now?: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/live_shots.asp
NASA/JPL DAWN Multimedia (images/video etc.) page: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedia/index.asp
NASA Solar System page on Ceres: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Object=Dwa_Ceres
DAWN on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NASA_Dawn
DAWN on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dawn.mission
The Sky Live (Ceres real time tracking & location): http://theskylive.com/ceres-info
The Sky Live (Vesta real time tracking & location): http://theskylive.com/vesta-info
Hubble Space Telescope image of Ceres: http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/opo0527d/
NASA Solar System Simulator (interactive): http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/
NASA Eyes on the Solar System (interactive): http://eyes.nasa.gov/download.html