The mysterious bright ‘alien’ spots on Ceres, like you’ve never seen them before


As a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, this site may earn from qualifying purchases. We may also earn commissions on purchases from other retail websites.

Here is the closest and best look yet at Ceres’ ‘alien’ bright spots and other mysteries of the dwarf planet.


ceres-brightspot-close2


After orbiting the dwarf planet for about a year, the NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has surprised scientists with a set of the most detailed and closest images of the mysterious bright spots on the dwarf planet  surface filled with astronomical mysteries. Taken from a distance of just 385 km away from the crater Occator, the images show complex features suggesting recent geological activity on Ceres who has remained one of the most mysterious celestial bodies in our solar system ever since the Dawn spacecraft started orbiting the dwarf planet.

On Tuesday, mission specialists released some of the closest views we have ever seen of the mysterious ‘alien’ world, harbouring huge and unexplained mountains, and mysterious bright spots that go odd randomly throughout the day.

In the new images from the Dawns spacecraft, we can observe at the center of the Occator crater a pit of around four kilometers in depth and a dome marked with mysterious fractures and other linear features which extend around it, adding to the mystery of the Dwarf planet.


pia20354
This colorized global map of Ceres was created from a clear-filter mosaic. Color was added to the map using spectral data from other observations of Ceres (calculated using a color transformation program). The green and yellow areas at high latitudes are places where Dawn’s color imaging coverage is incomplete. (Source)

“Before Dawn began its intensive observations of Ceres last year, Occator Crater looked to be one large bright area. Now, with the latest close views, we can see complex features that provide new mysteries to investigate. The intricate geometry of the crater interior suggests geologic activity in the recent past, but we will need to complete detailed geologic mapping of the crater in order to test hypotheses about its formation,” said Ralf Jaumann, planetary scientist, and Dawn co-investigator at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin.

“Although impact processes dominate the surface geology on Ceres, we have identified specific color variations on the surface indicating material alterations that are due to a complex interaction of the impact process and the subsurface composition,” Jaumann said. “Additionally, this gives evidence for a subsurface layer enriched in ice and volatiles.”


 

Click here for the full size image
Click here for the full-size image

 

According to researchers, additional data collected by the Dawn spacecraft revealed evidence supporting the presence of subsurface ice. This was corroborated by the Gamma-Ray Detector and Neutron probe, which found fewer neutrons in areas near the poles. This variation means higher hydrogen concentration near the poles, which in turn results in the possible presence of water ice in these areas.

“Our analyses will test a longstanding prediction that water ice can survive just beneath Ceres’ cold, high-latitude surface for billions of years,” said Tom Prettyman, the lead for GRaND and Dawn co-investigator at the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona.

A week ago, researchers discovered that the mysterious bright lights on Ceres brighten and fade randomly during the day. According to observations made by ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, after studying the enigmatic bright spots that have caused confusion among astronomers ever since their discovery, the team noticed a series of changes which occur as Ceres rotates. The spots appear to brighten during the day and showed other variations that have caused confusion among astronomers.

Ceres remains as one of the most studied objects in our solar system filled with unexplainable features such as the enigmatic bright spots and the Pyramidal shaped structure located in the middle where mountainous regions should not exist on the dwarf planet.

In the past, astronomers have speculated that numerous features on the dwarf planet are unlike anything they had ever seen before.

New images are expected to shed more light on the mysterious characteristics of Ceres.


Reference


Like it? Share with your friends!