NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Is Finally In Orbit Around Ceres

At 4:39 (PST) this morning, after over seven years and three billion miles of travel, NASA's Dawn spacecraft was pulled into Ceres' orbit, becoming the first ever mission to orbit around a dwarf planet. » 3/06/15 8:20am 3/06/15 8:20am

A Possible Explanation For The Mysterious Bright Spots On Ceres

The discovery of a bright spot on Ceres has given rise to lots of speculation. And now we've learned something new: it has a friend. The second spot is not quite as bright, but still weirdly reflective compared to the rest of the dwarf planet. The geological mystery keeps getting more interesting! » 2/25/15 11:20am 2/25/15 11:20am

The Complete History Of Ceres, The Planet (?) Between Mars And Jupiter

Over the last couple of weeks, the Dawn Spacecraft has been beaming back spectacular pictures of Ceres – a world, discovered more than a century before Pluto, about which we know very little. This is the story of its discovery, and humanity's impending visit to one of the last unexplored planetary bodies in the… » 2/23/15 11:00am 2/23/15 11:00am

Just What Are Those White Spots On Ceres?

NASA's Dawn spacecraft is edging closer and closer to the dwarf planet Ceres, producing the best ever photograph ever taken every time it sends data home. But the more we see, the more the mystery deepens. Just what are those freaking white spots?! » 2/05/15 11:00pm 2/05/15 11:00pm

This Is The Greatest View Of Dwarf Planet Ceres We Have Ever Seen

The Dawn spacecraft has done it: it is now taking the highest-resolution images of the dwarf planet Ceres that have ever been seen. Not only is this new image better than the historic Hubble Space Telescope image, but every new release will be better than the one before until it arrives in orbit this March. » 1/28/15 9:15am 1/28/15 9:15am

Could This Be The Answer To Ceres's Mysterious White Spot?

As Dawn slowly approaches Ceres, this dwarf planet's inexplicable white spot is increasingly coming into focus. Thanks to xkcd's Randall Munroe, we may finally have the answer. » 1/21/15 1:00pm 1/21/15 1:00pm

What Do You See In The Latest Images Of Ceres?

As spacecraft Dawn edges closer to the dwarf planet Ceres, one thing is clear: this is no rock and ice ducky like comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Aside from that, it's like a Rorschach inkblot test of fuzzy pixels as we try to guess what awaits our robotic explorer on this alien world. » 1/19/15 9:15pm 1/19/15 9:15pm

Dawn On Alternate Approach To Ceres After Cosmic Ray Hiccups Ion Drive

After 14 months at Vesta, the Dawn spacecraft swung around for its second mission target: Ceres. After a rogue cosmic ray jumbling the best laid plans in September, the spacecraft is in its approach phase to slip into orbit around Ceres on March 6, 2015 just a half-day behind schedule. » 12/30/14 6:15pm 12/30/14 6:15pm

An Incredibly Detailed Geologic Map Of Giant Asteroid Vesta

Appearing in the December issue of the journal Icarus, this beautiful geologic map of big ol' asteroid/minor-planet Vesta was created by a team led by planetary scientist David Williams, from data collected by NASA's Dawn spacecraft during its 15-month orbit of the oblong object between 2011 and 2012. » 11/20/14 7:00pm 11/20/14 7:00pm

The First Image Of An Asteroid As Seen From The Surface Of Mars

The Curiosity Rover has taken up a new hobby: astrophotography. Not content to merely photograph cool Martian rocks, the rover has captured the first image of an asteroid as seen from the surface of Mars. Nicely done, Curiosity! » 4/25/14 10:00am 4/25/14 10:00am

Astronomers have spotted water plumes on dwarf planet Ceres

We've observed water on Ceres. The largest object in the asteroid belt, you may remember Ceres as the round, rock-ice body that was considered for reclassification as a planet in the midst of Pluto's demotion. Astronomers observed the water in the form of vapor plumes, possibly issuing from volcano-like geysers on… » 1/22/14 6:00pm 1/22/14 6:00pm

Leonard Nimoy is here to tell you about NASA's Ion-Thrusting Dawn…

With all the excitement over NASA's recent success (and plans for future missions) on Mars, people sometimes overlook the Agency's other deep space missions. And there are many. One of our favorites of these lesser-known (but still remarkable) missions is Dawn. » 1/07/13 1:34pm 1/07/13 1:34pm

Could giant asteroid Vesta actually be a planet?

For years, scientists have been calling Vesta an asteroid. Granted, it's a big asteroid — at 330 miles across, it's the second biggest in the solar system — but NASA's Dawn spacecraft recently got its closest look at Vesta yet, and according to Dawn's principle investigator Christopher Russel, astronomers have been… » 3/23/12 1:15pm 3/23/12 1:15pm

Is Vesta a giant asteroid or a protoplanet?

Giant asteroid Vesta is so enormous, many astronomers don't even refer to it as an asteroid, preferring to call the celestial body a "protoplanet." This image, which compares Vesta to eight other asteroids that we've sent spacecraft to investigate, helps illustrate the reason such a distinction exists. » 12/21/11 7:00am 12/21/11 7:00am

Where in the solar system do these colorful meteorites come from?

Of course, much of the color in these images isn't natural, but instead the result of analysis by a polarizing microscope. But thanks to such analysis we know exactly where these space rocks came from: the solar system's weirdest asteroid. » 12/11/11 8:30am 12/11/11 8:30am

Ancient landslides shaped the magnificent cliffs of Vesta

Despite being only about 330 miles across, the asteroid Vesta features some of the biggest cliffs in the entire solar system. This new image from NASA's Dawn probe gives us one of the most striking looks yet at Vesta's cliffs. » 11/30/11 11:33am 11/30/11 11:33am

The solar system's second tallest mountain is hidden away on the weird…

The tallest peak in the solar system is Olympus Mons of Mars, three times taller than Mount Everest. But it's not as easy to say what the second tallest mountain is...but it might be found in the unlikeliest of places. » 10/05/11 7:40am 10/05/11 7:40am

Embark on a flyover of giant asteroid Vesta from the perspective of…

Feast your eyes on some of the latest vistas of Vesta, the second-most massive object in our solar system's main asteroid belt. » 9/20/11 3:39pm 9/20/11 3:39pm