Dawn spacecraft departs asteroid Vesta, next stop: Ceres

One of the last images of Vesta taken the Dawn spacecraft before it departed the asteroid to continue on to Ceres.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA/MPS / DLR / IDA / PSI

With all of the news lately about the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, it might be easy to forget about the other missions currently going on all over the solar system. That includes the asteroid belt, where the Dawn spacecraft has been orbiting and studying the giant asteroid Vesta since July of last year, sending back incredible photos and information about this unique world.

But now, Dawn has departed from Vesta to continue its mission elsewhere; on September 4, it escaped Vesta’s gravitational pull and is now headed for its next rendezvous – the dwarf planet Ceres. It is expected to arrive there in early 2015, the same year that the New Horizons spacecraft will finally reach Pluto.

See Examiner.com for the full article.