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Ceres is a dwarf planet located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt and the only dwarf planet located in the inner solar system.

It was discovered in 1801 by Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi and was later reclassified as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006.

Examples of Ceres missions include:

  • NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which was launched in 2007, it orbited Ceres from March 2015 to November 2018, and it was the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet. Dawn returned detailed images and data of Ceres' surface, revealing a cratered and heavily-eroded surface, as well as a number of bright spots that were later determined to be salt deposits.
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos have a proposed mission to Ceres called the Hera mission, which aims to study Ceres and the asteroid Didymos in the early 2030s. The mission plans to explore the asteroids' surface, geology, and internal structure, as well as to study their potential as resources for future manned missions to the asteroids.
  • The JAXA's proposed mission to Ceres called the Hayabusa 2-Ceres, which is planned to launch in 2027, it aims to study Ceres' surface and geology, as well as to analyze samples of its soil and ice.
  • The Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) has a proposed mission to Ceres called the Chang'e-7, which is planned to launch in 2029, it aims to study Ceres' surface, geology, and internal structure, as well as to analyze samples of its soil and ice.

Ceres is of interest to scientists and space agencies due to its proximity to Earth and its potential to provide insights into the early solar system and the formation of planets, as well as its potential as a resource for future manned missions to the asteroid belt.

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