Probe leaves Asteroid Vesta and proceeds to dwarf planet Ceres
The spacecraft's ion engine is now pushing it on to an even bigger target in the belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter - the dwarf planet Ceres.
Dawn is expected to reach this 950km-wide body in early 2015.
Before departing on its long cruise to the new destination, the probe trained its camera system on Vesta's northern pole.
The pictures reveal mountains and craters that are being seen for the very first time. Only now, as Dawn heads away, has the Sun risen high enough in the sky to illuminate the highest latitudes.
The Dawn mission has returned a great swathe of data to transform our understanding of Vesta.
Before the probe's arrival in July last year, the best views of the asteroid were some fuzzy pictures acquired by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Sources and more information:
LOS ANGELES (AP) Next and final stop: The biggest object in the asteroid belt. After spending a year gazing at a giant asteroid, NASA's Dawn spacecraft on Wednesday began the cruise toward an even bigger target a voyage that will take nearly three years. Ground controllers received a signal from Dawn that it successfully spiraled away from...
The feat has never been accomplished before and next week's departure for the Dawn spacecraft from Vesta will be monumental. Dawn is on track to become the first probe to orbit and study two distant solar system destinations. The spacecraft is scheduled to leave the giant asteroid Vesta on Sept. 4 PDT (Sept.
( via bbc.co.uk )
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