The U.S. space agency NASA has released images of Ceres, a dwarf planet orbiting the sun between Jupiter and Mars.

Ceres is the closest dwarf planet to the Sun, and now can be seen in unprecedented detail.

The video is based on observations of Ceres that were taken on the Dawn spacecraft's first mapping orbit, at an altitude of 13,000 kilometers, as well as more recent images taken from 5,000 kilometers.

Ceres is the largest obstacle in the asteroid belt. It is 950 kilometers in diameter - about one eighth the size of Earth. It is the inner solar system's only dwarf, a planetary mass object that is neither a planet nor natural satellite.

Dawn began its second mapping orbit on June 3 and will observe Ceres for some weeks. The spacecraft is part of the Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.