Tuesday, December 02, 2014
Great news - we're getting our first eye candy of Ceres soon. The picture is actually just being taken for science camera calibration purposes, but we'll see it soon (if they know what's good for them) and it will be our first real picture of Ceres that Dawn has taken. There actually was another photo of Ceres taken before but that was taken even before it reached Vesta, so nothing any more spectacular than the Ceres we can see in the sky as well, other than the fact that there is no atmosphere getting in the way.
But this one will be nine pixels across.
One final calibration of the science camera is needed before arrival at Ceres. To accomplish it, the camera needs to take pictures of a target that appears just a few pixels across. The endless sky that surrounds our interplanetary traveler is full of stars, but those beautiful pinpoints of light, while easily detectable, are too small for this specialized measurement. But there is an object that just happens to be the right size. On Dec. 1, Ceres will be about nine pixels in diameter, nearly perfect for this calibration.
So it'll be something like this blown up.