NASA spacecraft sending back close-ups of dwarf planet Ceres

  • NASA spacecraft sending back close-ups of dwarf planet Ceres

NASA spacecraft sending back close-ups of dwarf planet Ceres

"Dawn is like a master artist, adding rich details to the otherworldly beauty in its intimate portrait of Ceres".

Dawn is now closer than ever to Occator Crater, the source of some of those intriguing spots, and NASA has released a fresh look at what's inside.

Discovered by Dawn in 2015, when the spacecraft first reached Ceres, these mysterious faculae - including the largest one of them, Cerealia Facula, which resides at the heart of Occator Crater - are the biggest carbonate deposits ever uncovered outside our planet and might even be larger than those found on Mars.

This mosaic of a prominent mound located on the western side of Cerealia Facula was obtained by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on June 22, 2018, from an altitude of about 21 miles (34 kilometers).

Dawn was directed into its last orbit, where it will arc over the tiny planetoid again and again, peering down from an estimated 22 miles (35 kilometers) above the dwarf planet's surface.

Job well done. kudos to NASA's Dawn and the technology that enabled it to become the first mission to orbit two solar system destinations outside of the Earth-Moon system - first Vesta and then Ceres - and to do groundbreaking science at these two bodies.​.

Dawn spacecraft of Nasa gets a close-up look of the weird white spot that speckles the dwarf planet Ceres.

What are these bright spots?

But how and where exactly did these salt deposits, the experts don't know yet.

Were they made of water ice, and if so, what would that mean about the formation and interior of Ceres?

The wealth of information contained in these images, and more that are planned in the coming weeks, will help address key, open questions about the origin of the faculae, the largest deposits of carbonates observed thus far outside Earth, and possibly Mars.

Whichever it is, this evaporation or sublimation is likely an ongoing process, as images from the mission have revealed a very fine haze or fog lingering along the base of Occator crater at times.

Hopefully, the NASA's scientists will eventually find what is dwarf planet Ceres "hiding" before the NASA's Dawn probe ends it fuel which is expected to deplete in September.

Dawn mission which was launched in September 2007. Rayman is providing updates about the spacecraft's discoveries in orbit above the dwarf planet, which can be viewed here: Dawn Journal.

Before its recent descent, the closest Dawn had traveled to Ceres was 240 miles (385 kilometers). "While the extension of Dawn in ceras, it has been exciting to highlight the nature and history of this fascinating dwarf planet, and it is particularly appropriate that Don's final work will provide rich new data sets to test those principles".

Dawn's principal investigator, Carol Raymond of JPL, chimed in on the spacecraft's current mission at Ceres and its upcoming finale.