Artist's concept of NASA's Dawn spacecraft with Vesta on the lower left and Ceres on the upper right (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
Image of the asteroid Vesta captured from a distance of about 26,000 miles (41,000 km) by the Dawn spacecraft's framing camera on July 9, 2011 (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)
Artist concept showing the Dawn spacecraft with Ceres and Vesta (Image: William K. Hartmann Courtesy of UCLA)
On Saturday, NASA’a Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around the asteroid Vesta, becoming the first probe ever to enter orbit around an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn will study Vesta for a year before heading for the dwarf planet Ceres. With previous multi-target missions, such as the Voyager program, considered rapid planetary flybys, Dawn is also set to become the first spacecraft to enter orbit around one extraterrestrial body before continuing under powered flight to a second.
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