In the build up to NASA's first science orbit of dwarf planet Ceres later this month, the agency's spacecraft Dawn has been capturing stunning images of the extraterrestrial body.
Astroboffins have released an impressive animation of Ceres, after it was snapped from a distance of 21,000 (33,000 kilometres) on 10 April.
NASA has promised that, from here on in, the photos of the worldlet will be more and more spectacular as Dawn edges ever closer to Ceres – which is the biggest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
On 23 April, the spacecraft is expected to shift into position to carry out its first science orbit of Ceres when it will remain at a distance of 8,400 miles (13,500 kilometres) from the dwarf planet.
It will stay there for 16 days, before making its way to lower orbits on 9 May, NASA said.
North pole of dwarf planet Ceres. Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Last week, scientists theorised that Ceres has 10 bright spots on the worldlet, which they believe is made up of about a quarter of ice. ®