The dwarf planet Ceres orbits the Sun within the Asteroid Bely between Mars and Jupiter. Since its discovery, Ceres was the subject of many speculations because of its bizarre bright spots. However, Ceres reveals its weird bright spot in a stunning image taken by NASA’s Dawn probe.
The image was captured when the Dawn spacecraft hovered above the Occator crater on Ceres at an elevation of about 34 km. “The new images of Occator Crater and the surrounding areas have exceeded expectations, revealing beautiful, alien landscapes,” explained Carol Raymond from the NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and the head of the Dawn probe’s mission.
NASA’s Dawn probe took off in 2007 with the mission to examine the dwarf planet in our solar system, Ceres, and the other massive space rock in the Asteroid Belt, Vesta. The probe reached Vesta in 2011, while it started examining Ceres in September 2012.
The weird bright spot on dwarf planet Ceres, captured by NASA’s Dawn, might be a reminiscence of briny water
During its approach on the dwarf planet in 2015, NASA’s Dawn space probe discovered the Ceres’ bright spots for the first time.
According to some previous studies, the bright spots on Ceres are composed of briny compounds, mainly sodium carbonate and ammonium chloride.
The researchers believe these chemical compounds remained on the dwarf planet in our solar system after the briny water on its surface boiled. However, nobody knows yet where that water came from or how deep in the underground of Ceres the reservoirs reside.
The recent stunning image captured by NASA’s Dawn probe reveals the most prominent bright spot on Ceres found in the 92-kilometer-wide Occator crater, detected by the spacecraft in its 2015 approach to the dwarf planet.
NASA’s Dawn probe is running out of hydrazine, and when its fuel is gone, the probe won’t be able to study Ceres or send data to Earth.