Dawn begins descent to final orbit around Ceres


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Engineers have fired up Dawn’s ion engine and have begun lowering the spacecraft’s orbit downward.

The spacecraft is now on its way to the final orbit of the mission, called the low-altitude mapping orbit. Dawn will spend more than seven weeks descending to this vantage point, which will be less than 235 miles (380 kilometers) from the surface of Ceres. In mid-December, Dawn will begin taking observations from this orbit, including images at a resolution of 120 feet (35 meters) per pixel.

They’ve also released a nice mosaic showing the double bright spots in Occator Crater as well as the surrounding terrain.

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