US space agency NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has already commenced its approach phase towards dwarf planet Ceres. This would be for the first time when any spacecraft will land on the dwarf planet.
Recently, Dawn had emerged from solar conjunction during which it was on the sun’s opposite side that resulted in limiting the communication with antennas on the planet Earth.
But now as the Dawn spacecraft has again re-established its communication with the Earth, the mission controllers have started programming the maneuvers essential for the next stage of the rendezvous, which they term as the Ceres approach phase. Currently, Dawn is 640,000 kilometers (400,000 miles) from Ceres and approaching toward the dwarf planet at around 725 kilometers per hour (450 miles per hour).
The arrival of spacecraft at the dwarf planet Ceres would mark the first time when a spacecraft has ever orbited two solar system targets. Now, Dawn has completed the five years of accumulated thrust time. The time span is far more than any other spacecraft.
In the coming months, Dawn is going to offer continually improving views of Ceres, before arriving on the planet. By the January-end, the images of the spacecraft and other data would be collected by NASA. These images would be the best ever caught of the dwarf planet.
The American space agency has launched Dawn in 2007. It had been scheduled to enter the Ceres orbit in March next year.