NASA's Dawn captures most detailed pics of Ceres to date

NASA's Dawn spacecraft is back in dwarf planet Ceres' sunny-side orbit after spending in excess of a month on the planet's dark side. Now that it can see again, the spacecraft has captured a series of new pictures of the tiny planet, and they are the most detailed and highest resolution so far, having been snapped at a distance of 21,000 miles. Furthermore, the images have been aggregated into a short animation showing the planet rotate in relatively small increments.

The images are of Ceres' north pole, which is illuminated while the rest of the planet is left shrouded in shadows. They were snapped on April 10 of this year at a distance of 21,000 miles, lending further research material and a phenomenal look at Ceres, which has a diameter of only 590 miles.

This may be the highest-resolution look at the planet thus far, but it won't stay that way for too long; as Dawn grows closer to Ceres, we'll get increasingly higher-resolution looks at it. Dawn previously spent a little over a year exploring the asteroid Vesta.

Dawn will reach Ceres for its first science orbit on April 23, according to NASA. At that point, Dawn will hang out 8,400 miles from Ceres, and then on May 9 it will move in to lower orbits. How low of orbits wasn't detailed, nor how long the space agency plans to leave Dawn there.