Ceres' bright spots, up close


The brightest area on the dwarf planet stands out amid shadowy, cratered terrain in a dramatic new view from NASA's Dawn spacecraft.


NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

This image of the limb of dwarf planet Ceres shows a section of the northern hemisphere. Prominently featured is Occator Crater, home of Ceres' intriguing brightest areas.

At 92 kilometres wide and four kilometres deep, Occator displays evidence of recent geologic activity. The latest research suggests that the bright material in this crater is comprised of salts left behind after a briny liquid emerged from below, froze and then sublimated, meaning it turned from ice into vapour.

Dawn took this image on 17 October from its second extended-mission science orbit, at a distance of about 1,480 kilometres above the surface.

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