NASA Releases Video Presenting A Flyover Of Dwarf Planet Ceres

The view is out of this world!

What do we know about the dwarf planet Ceres?

Actually, not a whole heck of a lot. Ceres is found in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and is the only known object in the belt to be spherical (due to the force of its own gravity). It is composed of ice and rock, and actually makes up a third of all of the mass in the asteroid belt.

It was initially discovered in 1801 and assumed to be a planet, but astronomers reclassified it as an asteroid in 1802. Ceres' identity changed once again in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union voted on strict definitions for planetary bodies and decided it better fit as a dwarf planet. (This was the same meeting that determined Pluto no longer qualified for planetary status and was reclassified as a dwarf planet as well.)

Though its existence has been known for over 200 years, there are many details about Ceres' formation, structure, and surface that were unknown to astronomers. That is about to change, thanks to data collected by NASA's Dawn spacecraft that paid a visit to Ceres in March 2015.

Dawn took images Ceres at a distance of 8,400 miles. NASA compiled all of these images and was able to stitch them together into a spectacular video that highlights all of the craters and intricacies of the surface.

See the gorgeous flyover for yourself:

[Image credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, UCLA, MPS/DLR/IDA, DLR, ESO]

[H/T: Popular Mechanics]

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