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In the Nation


Dawn spacecraft

nears dwarf planet

After voyaging 2.4 billion miles through space, NASA's Dawn spacecraft is finally on the homestretch of its journey to Ceres, the largest member of the asteroid belt and one of five dwarf planets in the solar system.

Dawn was launched in 2007 to study two very different asteroids and learn more about the building blocks of our solar system. Ceres is Dawn's second stop; its first was Vesta, which the spacecraft circled from July 2011 to September 2012.

Now, after leaving Vesta and traveling through space for more than two years, Dawn is roughly 400,000 miles from Ceres and speeding toward it at about 450 m.p.h., with a rendezvous set for March 6.

Ceres is a dwarf planet, along with Haumea, Makemake, Pluto, and Eris.

Its gravity pulls it into a spherical shape - which is one reason it was once classified as a planet.

- AP

Pilot dies on lawn

A cargo pilot who died when he crashed a small plane into the front yard of a suburban Denver home had reported loss of engine power before going down. The National Transportation Safety Board said the twin-engine Cessna 404 cartwheeled a bit before stopping a few feet from the front door of a home around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. The house had some heat damage from the resulting fire, but no one else was injured.

- AP

Cars heavily salted

A wall at a Morton Salt storage facility collapsed, burying several cars at an auto dealership next door in road salt. Company spokeswoman Denise Lauer said a side wall broke Tuesday afternoon at the facility on Chicago's northwest side, spilling road salt outside and onto the neighboring property. Morton Salt Inc. is a 100-year-old company based in Chicago best known for its pourable table salt.

- AP