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Dawn enters orbit around Ceres
Posted: Sat, Mar 7, 2015, 9:48 AM ET (1448 GMT)
Dawn spacecraft illustration (UCLA/W. Hartman) NASA's Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres as expected on Friday. Dawn was captured by Ceres' gravity at 7:39 am EST (1239 GMT) Friday, at an altitude of 61,000 kilometers. Dawn will gradually move into its initial science orbit at an altitude of 13,500 kilometers later by mid-April; in later phases of the mission, it will orbit Ceres as close as several hundred kilometers above its surface. Dawn launched in 2007 on a mission to study two of the largest objects in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn orbited the large asteroid Vesta from July 2011 to September 2012 before departing for Ceres, formally designated a dwarf planet by the IAU in 2006.
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