The NASA Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around the large asteroid-dwarf planet Ceres on March 6, 2015. Mission scientists gathered the Dawn images and built this composite as it neared Ceres. More details about this image can be found in this press release.
Higher resolution images will be gathered at an altitude of 8,400 miles (13,500 kilometers) when the spacecraft begins an intensive science phase April 23, 2015. There is much more to come in the months ahead.
Visible and infrared images from the approach phase of Dawn to Ceres were used to create the simulated rotation below. Analysis of those images created the various colors above. The colors indicate some keys to composition and history of the regions. The very bright spots are of particular interest.
During 2011 and 2012, Dawn investigated Vesta, the second largest asteroid after Ceres. Much was learned about it which contributed to our knowledge of the formation of the solar system bodies. Ceres is thought to consist of 25% water, much different from rocky dry Vesta. It will also give us insights into our planetary histories.