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Mysterious Bright Spots Shine on Dwarf Planet Ceres (Photos)


Two photos of a dwarf world Ceres taken by NASA's Dawn booster on Feb. 12, 2015, from a stretch of about 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers). The images have been magnified from their strange size.
Two photos of a dwarf world Ceres taken by NASA’s Dawn booster on Feb. 12, 2015, from a stretch of about 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers). The images have been magnified from their strange size.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA’s Dawn booster will have copiousness of mysteries to examine when it starts orbiting a dwarf world Ceres subsequent month, as a probe’s latest photos attest.

Dawn’s many new images of Ceres, taken Feb. 12 during a stretch of 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) away, uncover an contentment of craters on a dwarf planet, as good as countless splendid spots that have scientists baffled.

“As we solemnly proceed a stage, a eyes transfixed on Ceres and her heavenly dance, we find she has beguiled us though left us nothing a wiser,” Dawn principal questioner Chris Russell of UCLA said in a statement. “We approaching to be surprised; we did not design to be this puzzled.”

The new photos, that have a fortitude of 4.9 miles (7.8 km) per pixel, are a sharpest ever taken of Ceres, NASA officials said.

A large, flickering white spot was also manifest in photos Dawn took of Ceres final month.

“We can endorse that it is something on Ceres that reflects some-more sunlight, though what that is stays a mystery,” Dawn goal executive and arch operative Marc Rayman, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told Space.com around email during a time

Dawn could transparent adult a poser soon. The examine is scheduled to enter circuit around a 590-mile-wide (950 km) Ceres, a largest physique in a categorical asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, on a night of Mar 5. Dawn will start investigate Ceres in aspiring 6 weeks after that; a examine is scheduled to work a approach down to a initial scholarship circuit on Apr 23.

The $466 million Dawn goal launched in Sep 2007 to investigate a asteroid belt’s dual biggest denizens — the protoplanet Vesta, that is 330 miles (530 km) wide, and Ceres. Dawn orbited Vesta from Jul 2011 by Sep 2012, when it over for Ceres.

Dawn’s observations of these dual heavenly building blocks should assistance scientists improved know a solar system’s early days, NASA officials said.

Dawn is scheduled to investigate Ceres from a accumulation of orbits by Jun 2016, when a probe’s goal will come to an end.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

Article source: http://www.space.com/28579-ceres-bright-spots-dawn-photos.html

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