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NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Takes Its Last Journey

First Posted: Oct 27, 2015 03:52 PM EDT
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NASA's Dawn spacecraft began its fourth journey and last scientific orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres, last Friday, according to a news release.

Ceres is one of the largest objects in the asteroid belt, where it situates itself between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Ceres' diameter stretches approximately to 945 kilometers, making it the largest minor planet within the orbit of Neptune. Dawn takes an about 1,680 days to orbit Ceres.

Dawn completed two months of observations from 1,470 kilometers (an altitude of 913 miles) and it has transmitted extensive imagery and other data to Earth, according to a NASA report. Spacecraft Dawn is on the last orbit of the mission, which is known as the low altitude mapping orbit.

The spacecraft will spend over seven weeks to get to its destination, which is about 380 kilometers (236 miles) from the surface of Ceres. Dawn is expected to begin observations from this orbit during mid-December, where it will capture images at a resolution of 35 meters (114 feet) per pixel. 

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