Artist's rendition of Dawn spacecraft leaving Earth (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/McREL)
Artist's rendition of Dawn spacecraft orbiting Ceres (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/McREL)
Ceres now appears to us as little more than a blurry dot in the sky (Image: Keck Observatory by C. Dumas)
NASA's Dawn spacecraft arrived at the giant asteroid Vesta on July 15, 2011 (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)
After 14 months spent collecting data on the asteroid Vesta, Dawn will soon start its journey toward the dwarf planet Ceres (Image: JPL/NASA)
The gravity of Mars bends Dawn's orbit around the Sun, giving it a boost to help it reach Vesta and Ceres (Image: JPL/NASA)
The Dawn spacecraft was the first to ever orbit an object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and has been studying the asteroid Vesta since July 2011, revealing unprecedented detail on its distant past and providing astronomers with a better picture of the early history of our solar system. Now, however, it's time to say goodbye – in only a few days' time, Dawn will make its escape from Vesta's gravitational grasp and start a two and a half-year journey toward the dwarf planet Ceres.
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