One of the first frames received by Dawn a year after switching to the lowest and final orbit near Ceres. Frame captured May 16, 2018 at an altitude of 440 km
The NASA Dawn spacecraft is maneuvering to its lowest orbit for large-scale exploration of the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system. In early June, Dawn will reach a new final orbit over Ceres. After that, it will begin to collect images and other scientific data from a unique location. The orbit will be less than 50 km above the surface, which is 10 times closer than ever before.
Dawn will receive gamma and neutron spectra that will help you understand the changes in the chemical composition of the topmost layer of Ceres. This extremely low orbit will also show some of the closest personnel. The transition to a low orbit is a complex process. Dawn's operations team had to work for several months to calculate the course for the second extended mission for a ship moving on an ion engine. Engineers looked at more than 45,000 possible paths before developing a plan for the best possible view.
Dawn launched in 2007 to study the two largest bodies in the main asteroid belt: West and Ceres. He entered Ceres orbit in March 2015. New high-resolution information allows researchers to test theories derived from previous data sets.