NASA Reveals First Topographic Map Of Ceres But Could Not Solve Bright Spots Mystery

Posted: Sep 30 2015, 9:55pm CDT | by , Updated: Sep 30 2015, 10:17pm CDT, in News


NASA Reveals First Topographic Map of Ceres But Bright Spots Are Still a Mystery

New images provide more insights about dwarf planet Ceres, its crater Occator and the features on its surface

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft captured some striking close-ups of dwarf planet Ceres last month. Using these images, scientists have created the first ever color coded topographic map of dwarf planet which enhances the compositional differences found on its surface.

The map offers a clear and in-depth viewing of its crater Occator which is a home of Ceres’ brightest spots and a tall unusual mountain present on its surface. But despite all that, this dwarf planet continues to remain mysterious and is a real head scratcher for scientists. 

"Ceres continues to amaze, yet puzzle us, as we examine our multitude of images, spectra and now energetic particle bursts." said Chris Russell, Dawn principal investigator at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The false colored topographical map showed more than dozens of names given to the different features of Ceres. These include Jaja, after the Abkhazian harvest goddess, and Ernutet, after the cobra-headed Egyptian harvest goddess. A 12-mile diameter mountain near Ceres' north pole is now called Ysolo Mons. The name was given after the Albanian festival that marks the first day of the eggplant harvest.

Scientists have found more than one mystery on dwarf planet. From a distance of 915 miles on Ceres, a cone-shaped puzzling mountain was discovered. The mountain is very tall, almost 4 miles high and shiny likewise. Scientists named it “lonely mountain” but they are unable to understand what made that mountain. 

“The irregular shapes of crater on Ceres are especially interesting resembling craters we see on Saturn’s icy moon Rhea,” said Carol Raymond, a member of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. “They are very different from the bowl shaped craters on Vesta.”

Dawn space probe has also detected three bursts of energetic electrons that could possibly be the result of interaction between Ceres and radiations from the Sun. Scientists are analyzing it thoroughly because it can prove a missing like to solve the mystery about Ceres.

"This is a very unexpected observation for which we are now testing hypotheses.” said Russell.

Dawn was the first spacecraft to orbit a dwarf planet. It travelled 3 billion miles to reach Ceres in March this year. Currently, spacecraft is orbiting at an altitude of 915 miles but it will move in closer to the Ceres, starting from this month to December and will descend to its lowest and final orbit at an altitude of 233 miles.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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