Christoff Truter Astronomy This post is closed for comments.
This year is definitely the year of the dwarf planet, we can look forward to Dawn and New Horizons finally reaching their targets!
Launched the 27th of September 2007, NASA's Dawn probe is expected to enter orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt on the 6th of March, completing the second leg of its mission throughout July - becoming the first spacecraft to visit a dwarf planet.
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Launched on the 19th of January 2006, NASA's new horizons probe should perform a flyby of Pluto around the 14th of July, snapping high resolution photos of its surface for the first time. Observations of Pluto will however start as early as
February the 25th of January already and images exceeding the best current photos of the dwarf planet by the 5th of May.
NASA is currently looking at other Kuiper belt objects to visit with this probe as soon as its main mission is completed.
This year also marks the end of NASA's Messenger mission that was launched in August 2004 to study Mercury. On the 6th of March 2013 Messenger completed mapping the whole surface of Mercury.
The probe will crash into Mercury around March or possibly April ending a spectacular 10 year mission.