asteroid or a planet?
Although a trivial designation to some, the recent suggestion by the
Planet Definition Committee of the
International Astronomical Union would have Ceres reclassified from asteroid to planet.
A change in taxonomy might lead to more notoriety for the frequently overlooked world.
at about 1000 kilometers across, is the largest object in the
main asteroid belt
between Mars and Jupiter.
newly proposed criteria, Ceres would qualify as a planet because it is nearly
spherical and sufficiently distant from other planets.
Pictured above is the best picture yet of Ceres, taken by the
Hubble Space Telescope
as part of a series of exposures ending in 2004 January.
Dawn mission is scheduled to launch in 2007 June to explore
Ceres and Vesta,
regardless of their future designations.