NASA has released a series of pictures showing a high-res twirly view of the dwarf planet Ceres, jewel of the asteroid belt.
The US space agency's Dawn spacecraft recently flew in to grab a closer look at the dwarf planet, flying within 90,000 miles of its surface to snap the photos NASA later released as a GIF.
NASA's Dawn probe captures Ceres in orbit
Ceres, a dwarf planet that lies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is an early target of the nine-year Dawn mission. The spacecraft had also flown by Mars and visited the asteroid Vesta before arriving at Ceres for a 16-month study of the celestial body.
Last month, Dawn began transmitting its first images from Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt. These new images provide an even clearer look of the 590-mile-diameter dwarf planet.
NASA said the photos capture a resolution of 8.5 miles per pixel, the most-detailed snaps of Ceres to date. The probe is scheduled to continue studying Ceres through the end of its primary mission in July. The mission is a joint effort between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Germany's Max Planck Institute and the Italian Space Agency.
Word of the Ceres snaps comes just as another high-profile mission, the New Horizons probe is closing in on its target, the former planet Pluto, now demoted to dwarfworld. ®