NASA’s Dawn spacecraft took some pictures of Ceres, the Dwarf Planet and are totally confused. The pictures have grabbed 2 bright spots on the planet and they are as bright as a star in the dark night. Ceres lies in an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. In 2004, when Ceres’ image was taken by Hubble Space Telescope, only one white spot was visible. The scientists do not know what is causing them.
“Ceres’ bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin. This may be pointing to a volcanolike origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations.” says, Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, University of California, Los Angeles.
This is image was taken on 19th February from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles. The Dawn craft will travel in Ceres’ orbit and will bring sharper images.
“The brightest spot continues to be too small to resolve with our camera, but despite its size it is brighter than anything else on Ceres. This is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us,” said lead investigato, Andreas Nathues at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Gottingen, Germany.
According to NASA
“Ceres has more in common with Earth and Mars than its rocky neighbors. There are signs that Ceres contains large amounts of water ice beneath its surface. Scientists using the Herschel Space Observatory found evidence for water vapor on Ceres. The vapor may be produced by cryovolcanoes or by ice near the surface sublimating (transforming from solid to gas). This proves that Ceres has a icy surface and an atmosphere as well. Astronomers estimate that if Ceres were composed of 25 percent water, it may have more water than all the fresh water on Earth.”