Photos: Dwarf Planet Ceres, the Solar System's Largest Asteroid

Layers of Ceres

NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)

The layers of Ceres. Scientists think that the dwarf planet contains a rocky inner core surrounded by a thick mantle of water-ice. A thin outer crust covers the surface, with carbonates and other signs that water lay on the planet's skin at some point.

Ceres Water Vapor Atmosphere

ESA/ATG medialab

An artist's impression of the dwarf planet Ceres, which appears to have a water vapor atmosphere from outgassing on the object. Inset: The water absorption signal detected by the European Space Agency's Herschel space observatory on Oct. 11, 2012. Image released Jan. 22, 2014. [Read the Full Story Here.]

Largest Asteroid Might Contain More Fresh Water than Earth

NASA, ESA, J. Parker (Southwest Research Institute), P. Thomas (Cornell University), and L. McFadden (University of Maryland, College Park)

Snapshots of the asteroid 1 Ceres taken by the Hubble Space Telescope provide clues about the asteroid's interior make-up. The bright spot that appears in each image is a mystery.

Asteroid Vesta as Seen by Hubble

NASA, ESA, J. Parker (Southwest Research Institute), L. McFadden (University of Maryland)

This Hubble Space Telescope image of Vesta shows another of the most massive asteroids in the asteroid belt, a region between Mars and Jupiter. The images are helping astronomers plan for the Dawn spacecraft's tour of these hefty asteroids.

As the Asteroid Turns: Hubble Records New Video of Asteroid Vesta

NASA/ESA/STScI/UMd

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope snapped these images of the asteroid Vesta in preparation for the Dawn spacecraft's visit in 2011. Each of the four Hubble images captures views of Vesta during its 5.34-hour rotation period.

Dwarf Planet Ceres

NASA, ESA, J. Parker (Southwest Research Institute), P. Thomas (Cornell University), L. McFadden (University of Maryland, College Park), and M. Mutchler and Z. Levay (STScI)

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows Ceres, the most massive object in the asteroid belt, in 2004.

Dawn Spacecraft Artist's Concept

NASA/JPL-Caltech

This artist's concept shows NASA's Dawn spacecraft heading toward the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn spent nearly 14 months orbiting Vesta, the second most massive object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, from 2011 to 2012. It is heading towards Ceres, the largest member of the asteroid belt. When Dawn arrives, it will be the first spacecraft to go into orbit around two destinations in our solar system beyond Earth.

Ceres Rotation One Quarter

NASA, ESA, J. Parker (Southwest Research Institute), P. Thomas (Cornell University), and L. McFadden (University of Maryland, College Park)

Ceres rotates about once every nine hours.

Dwarf Planets in Our Solar System (Infographic)

Karl Tate, SPACE.com contributor

Meet the dwarf planets of our solar system, Pluto Eris, Haumea, Makemake and Ceres.

Millions of Rocky and Metallic Asteroids Occupy the Asteroid Belt (Infographic)

Karl Tate, SPACE.com Contributor

Most asteroids orbit the sun within a broad belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter: the asteroid belt. Get the facts about the asteroid belt in this SPACE.com infographic.

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