Ceres is the queen of the asteroid belt. Her first Earthly visitor is nearing its last days in spectacular style. Dawn Mission Director and Chief Engineer Marc Rayman returns with stunning images taken from just 35 kilometers or 22 miles above the dwarf planet, and a preview of the spacecraft’s last days. Planetary Society Chief Scientist Bruce Betts has a summer guide to the night sky, looks back in space exploration history and delivers another Random Space Fact. He and Mat Kaplan also have a new space trivia question for listeners.
Occator Crater Rim Landslides
This image was obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on June 9, 2018 from an altitude of about 27 miles (44 kilometers).
This simulated perspective view shows Occator Crater, measuring 57 miles (92 kilometers) across and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, which contains the brightest area on Ceres. This region has been the subject of intense interest since Dawn's approach to the dwarf planet in early 2015. This view, which faces north, was made using images from Dawn's low-altitude mapping orbit, 240 miles (385 kilometers) above Ceres. The still-mysterious bright areas are now known to be sodium carbonate.
On the way to its lowest-ever and final orbit, NASA's Dawn spacecraft is observing Ceres and returning new compositional data (infrared spectra) and images of the dwarf planet's surface, such as this dramatic image of Ceres' limb.
This view from NASA's Dawn mission shows where ice has been detected in the northern wall of Ceres' Juling Crater, which is in almost permanent shadow. This simulated perspective view was made using images from Dawn's low-altitude mapping orbit, 240 miles (385 kilometers) above Ceres.