NASA's Dawn spacecraft views Ceres's Occator Crater at opposition from sun

On April 29, Dawn successfully observed Ceres at opposition, taking images from a position exactly between the sun and Ceres’ surface. 

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: May 17, 2017, 12:45 PM IST
NASA's Dawn spacecraft views Ceres's Occator Crater at opposition from sun
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

New Delhi: NASA has released a new movie showing images of Ceres's Occator Crater - the brightest area of the dwarf planet - taken by the Dawn spacecraft.

On April 29, Dawn successfully observed Ceres at opposition, taking images from a position exactly between the sun and Ceres’ surface.

NASA says mission specialists had carefully maneuvered Dawn into a special orbit so that the spacecraft could view Occator Crater, which contains the brightest area of Ceres, from this new perspective.

The new movie released by NASA shows these opposition images, with contrast enhanced to highlight brightness differences. The bright spots of Occator stand out particularly well on an otherwise relatively bland surface. Check out the movie below!

Dawn took these images from an altitude of about 12,000 miles (20,000 kilometers).

Dawn's observations of Ceres during its more than two years there cover a broader range of illumination angles than almost any body in the solar system.

Providing scientists with an opportunity to gain new insights into Ceres' surface properties, Dawn's observations of the planet during its more than two years there cover a broader range of illumination angles than almost any body in the solar system.

After chasing down Ceres for more than two years, the Dawn spacecraft, launched in 2007, arrived safely and moved into orbit to begin NASA's humanity's - first ever exploration of a dwarf planet.