A U.S. space probe slips into orbit around Ceres, a miniature planet beyond Mars believed to be left over from the formation of the solar system, NASA says. Jillian Kitchener reports.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft made history by achieving orbit around Ceres -- a miniature planet beyond Mars, says NASA, believed to be left over from the formation of the solar system. In recent images, Ceres is shown as a crescent, with the spacecraft on a side of the dwarf planet that faces away from the sun until mid-April. Previous images showed numerous craters and unusual bright spots, which scientists say could be patches of subsurface ice, deposits of salt or other minerals. Scientists suspect Ceres may have had an underground ocean early in its history that later froze. Researchers say they'll begin looking for signs of changing features, which would suggest current geological activity.