NASA is extending Dawn’s mission over Ceres for a second time

In June 2016, the Dawn spacecraft reached the end of its primary mission over Ceres. Since then, the spacecraft has remained in orbit around the dwarf planet, where it has continued to monitor and study its surface. This week, NASA has announced a second mission extension for the probe, one that will take its closest look yet at the solar system’s largest dwarf planet.

When Dawn arrived in orbit around Ceres in 2015, it provided scientists with an unprecedented look at at the asteroid belt’s largest object, revealing new features (which turn out to be made of salt), an active surface, and even organic compounds. There was still fuel left over once it completed that mission, and while scientists considered sending the spacecraft to a…

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