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

Vesta and Ceres Hubble View

NASA/ESA

Hubble Space Telescope imaged the asteroid Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres in 2007, both targets of NASA's Dawn mission.

Artist's Concept of NASA's Dawn Spacecraft

William K. Hartmann Courtesy of UCLA

An artist's concept of NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The asteroid Vesta, which the craft has already left, is on the left. Dawn will reach Ceres, shown on the right, in March 2015.

Asteroid Vesta in Perspective with Ceres

NASA/JPL-Caltech/ UCLA

The giant asteroid Vesta is shown here as the smallest body among other similar bodies in the solar system: Mars, Mercury, Earth's moon and the dwarf planet Ceres.

Workers Preparing Dawn Spacecraft for Launch

NASA/Jim Grossman

Launch pad workers prepare the Dawn spacecraft for its attachment to a Delta 2 rocket. The probe is set to launch in September 2007 to visit the asteroids Vesta and Ceres.

Dawn Spacecraft Launches on Mission to Asteroids Vesta and Ceres

NASA/Tony Gray & Robert Murray

NASA's Dawn asteroid probe launches on a three billion mile (4.9 billion-kilometer) mission to the asteroids Vesta and Ceres atop a Delta 2 rocket on Sept. 27, 2007 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Water Detection on Ceres

ESA/NASA/Adapted from Kuppers et al.

This graph shows variability in the intensity of the water absorption signal detected at Ceres by the Herschel space observatory on March 6, 2013. The most intense readings correspond to two dark regions on the surface known as Piazzi and Region A, identified in the ground-based image of Ceres by the W.M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The two data points at 110 degrees longitude were taken in a time interval of about 9 hours — equal to the Ceres rotation period — showing that variability in the water vapor production is possible even over short periods.

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