NASA's Dawn spacecraft on 6 March 2015 completed its Orbit around Dwarf Planet Ceres. By doing so, it became the first spacecraft to orbit around a dwarf planet.
The spacecraft was approximately 38000 miles (61000 kilometers) away from planet Ceres when it was captured by the dwarf planet’s gravity.
In addition to being the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet, Dawn also has the distinction of being the first mission to orbit two extraterrestrial targets. From 2011 to 2012, the spacecraft explored the giant asteroid Vesta, delivering new insights and thousands of images from that distant world.
Since its discovery in 1801, Ceres was known as a planet, then an asteroid and later a dwarf planet.
The most recent images received from the spacecraft, taken on 1 March 2015 show Ceres as a crescent, mostly in shadow because the spacecraft's trajectory put it on a side of Ceres that faces away from the sun until mid-April.
About Dawn's Mission
• Dawn's mission is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
• Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) is responsible for overall Dawn mission science.
• The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.
When: 6 March 2015