The finish line is in sight for the Dawn mission. After 7 1/2 years in space, including a 14-month stop at the asteroid Vesta, the spacecraft is about to pull up alongside the dwarf planet Ceres.
Around 7:20 a.m. Eastern time on March 6, Ceres’ gravity will take hold and start to pull the spacecraft in. The probe will not take any pictures because it’s approaching the dwarf planet from the night side. In six weeks, Dawn will enter a closer orbit and begin its 14-month mission to map Ceres, looking for clues about the birth of the solar system.