The mission of NASA “Dawn” is approaching the solution of Ceres.
In March, a robotic probe for the first time in history explores two new unknown bodies found within the solar system. In the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the second target of Dawn was sheltered.
"Our knowledge of Ceres is disastrously small compared to what we know about space in general. With Dawn, we will try to change that," assured Mark Reiman, chief engineer of the Dawn mission in the NASA jet propulsion laboratory in Pasadena, California.
New observations of Ceres were made only from a distance of 383,000 km, but we already see craters and geological changes. This is a real phenomenon - to see a dwarf planet with a diameter of 950 km. Although the picture has only 27 pixels, it is only 80% resolution of the images of Hubble's best observations of Ceres, obtained in 2003-2004. Within a couple of weeks we will receive a photo of Ceres, the quality of which surpasses the best shooting of any space telescope.
Previous studies have shown that Ceres is a protoplanet that appeared among the space debris of the asteroid belt. At the beginning of 2014 even water evaporation surrounding Ceres was detected, which hints at the ocean waters under the ice crust of the surface. It is very similar to Europe and Enceladus, the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. Wherever water is found on another planet or near it, we can talk about life. This is a real find for astrobiologists, who will be happy to test the internal structure of the dwarf planet. “Dawn” is currently slowly spiraling in the direction of Ceres. With the help of an ion rocket engine, the spacecraft is slowly but surely studying the asteroid belt. This technique of learning can not implement any traditional sports rocket. Ion engines require minimal fuel consumption, which is ionized and driven by an electric field. Charged particles that are released through the nozzle, provide a small, but fairly stable traction for a long time.
Thus, on March 6, you can mark in your calendars as the day of “Dawn” launch into the Ceres orbit. This dwarf planet hides no less secrets in itself than its dwarf brother, Pluto, which the New Horizon mission of NASA will pass by in July.