|Dawn Arrives at Ceres JB9609|
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, launched in 2007, is now orbiting Ceres. Dawn has traveled 3.1 billion miles to reach the dwarf planet, which resides in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn has already spent over a year orbiting another protoplanet, Vesta, making it the first spacecraft to orbit two separate extraterrestrial bodies. Dawn travels through space using ion propulsion, in which ions are accelerated out of an engine to produce thrust. After it spends several months of data-gathering, the spacecraft is expected to remain in perpetual orbit around Ceres as it runs out of fuel.