NASA’s Dawn’s mission is becoming ever more intriguing and captivating. The new video unveiling the surface features of Ceres stands as proof.
The fuzzy blob that we thought Ceres was with the images captured by Hubble Space Telescope is slowly unfurling as a captivating dwarf planet, brimming with daunting surface features and a few mysteries of its own.
In this latest NASA released video, a series of images captured by the framing camera of Dawn after its successful orbit reach on March 6th, between April and May were put together to create an astonishing view of the dwarf planet.
The hottest points of the video are the pyramid-like mountain and the yet unresolved bright spots in one of the largest craters of the celestial body.
The Occator crater, as it was unofficially titled was measured to be 2 miles deep and 60 miles wide. Previous images revealed a pair of bright spots in the Occator, seemingly like two lighted eyes. As Dawn got closer to Ceres, the images showed that the two bright spots are in fact a multitude of smaller ones.
Still, the nature of these bright spots remains elusive. While scientists believed initially that these are highly reflective icy patches, it seems they are not.
Principal investigator with Dawn mission at the UCLA, Chris Russell explained:
“We are now comparing the spots with reflective properties of salt, but we are still puzzled by their source. We look forward to new, higher-resolution data from the mission’s next orbital phase”.
As one listens to the voice of Marc Rayman – Chief Engineer, as well as Mission Director at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, more details on the asteroid belt dwarf planet emerge.
For such a small celestial body, measuring 584 miles in diameter, Ceres is packed with interesting details. More will probably follow.
Another feature that caught the attention of many is the pyramid-like mountain, yet unnamed. The Occator crater is located in the northern hemisphere of Ceres. This mountain is located to the southeast of Occator. More precisely, at 11 degrees south and 316 degrees east.
Measurements have shown that the pyramidal mountain, an unusual formation is 4 miles in height. As a comparison, that is about the same as Mount McKinley, located in Alaska’s Denali National Park, North America.
The icy world of Ceres, still enveloped in mystery, is also thought to hide a liquid water ocean underneath its thick icy surface. Home to life? Perhaps, but this too remains elusive for now. By mass, Ceres is estimated to be 25 percent water.
Come the next lowering into Ceres’s orbit, Dawn is bound to send ever more accurate information on the icy world.
Photo Credits: NASA