NASA's Dawn spacecraft is currently heading towards the largest celestial body in the Asteroid Belt, known as Ceres. Due to arrive in March, it's already close enough to image the rocky dwarf planet rotating on its axis.
This animation is made up of a series of images of Ceres, recorded by Dawn over the space of one hour on January 13th. Observed from 238,000 miles at a resolution of 27 pixels, the GIF shows just over half of the its surface. It's high enough in resolution that you can see bright and dark features shift as the rock rotates about its axis, revealing its nine-hour rotation period.
Sat between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres is officially categorized as a dwarf planet—but so far has never been imaged in detail. When Dawn arrives in March, that will all change. We can't wait to see it up close. [NASA]