NASA is using data from the Dawn spacecraft to investigate more closely the bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres that have so far baffled scientists.
The view above is a composite of two images of the crater named Occator where they appear: one using a short exposure that captures the detail in the bright spots, and one where the background surface is captured at normal exposure.
The video animation shows the topography of the crater more clearly.
The images were obtained by Dawn during the mission’s High Altitude Mapping Orbit (HAMO) phase, from which the spacecraft imaged the surface at a resolution of about 140 metres per pixel.
While scientsists still don’t know exactly what is causing the phenomenon, they believe they soon will.
“Dawn has transformed what was so recently a few bright dots into a complex and beautiful, gleaming landscape,” said Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
“Soon, the scientific analysis will reveal the geological and chemical nature of this mysterious and mesmerizing extraterrestrial scenery.”
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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