Ceres’ spots in higher res still can’t solve the mystery

An update on the bright spots on Ceres. New photos show more detail.

Source: Ceres’ Bright Spots Seen in Striking New Detail

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

The brightest spots on the dwarf planet Ceres gleam with mystery in new views delivered by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. These closest-yet views of Occator crater, with a resolution of 450 feet (140 meters) per pixel, give scientists a deeper perspective on these very unusual features.

The new up-close view of Occator crater from Dawn’s current vantage point reveals better-defined shapes of the brightest, central spot and features on the crater floor. Because these spots are so much brighter than the rest of Ceres’ surface, the Dawn team combined two different images into a single composite view — one properly exposed for the bright spots, and one for the surrounding surface.

Back in June, the spots on Ceres were compared to the lights of Las Vegas. It was hoped that higher res photos would help solve this mystery of the bright spots located in the crater. Seems we’re not quite there yet but more data and results are to come in the next few months. NASA/JPL aren’t panicking over it being a city on the dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter. Just for fun, you can vote on what you think the spots are (though science isn’t decided by popular vote). Currently “Other” is winning at 39% with “ice” in second place.

Tour Ceres here.

From Chris Reher on Twitter. https://twitter.com/Chris_Reher/status/609711865623613440/photo/1

From Chris Reher on Twitter. https://twitter.com/Chris_Reher/status/609711865623613440/photo/1

  6 comments for “Ceres’ spots in higher res still can’t solve the mystery

  1. Anomalous
    September 9, 2015 at 9:46 PM

    Looks like the Annunaki left the lights on at their old base. Or it’s another false beacon from those damn Xenonorphs. I wonder what Arthur C. Clarke & Stankey Kubrick would make of all this…

  2. Rook
    September 9, 2015 at 10:56 PM

    I love mysteries generated by space exploration! The more we learn about our solar system, the more interesting it becomes, with endless surpises and new puzzles waiting to be solved.

  3. mrclean417
    September 10, 2015 at 7:14 AM

    Hey, “what happens on Ceres STAYS on Ceres.”

  4. dqn
    September 10, 2015 at 7:54 AM

    My three half-assed guesses:

    1. Some bright material accumulated in an already existing depression of terrain:
    I think it’s improbable, because there isn’t bright spots anywhere else on Ceres. But I don’t know if there could be spots too small to notice and uncommon enough to not change an area’s “average” albedo.
    2. Some bright material was underground and moved to the surface; or part of the surface was removed, revealing the material:
    Same problems as the first, but I guess that an uncommon geological activity is more plausible than ice accumulating in only one spot. It could be an volcano or geyser thing, if those are possible on Ceres.
    3. An asteroid or small comet crashed there.
    This could explain why there aren’t other bright spots (the material isn’t from Ceres) but would need a conveniently white asteroid to make sense.

  5. Tracy
    September 10, 2015 at 8:12 AM

    Prothean ruins as in Mass Effect? That would be cool….

  6. Gary
    September 13, 2015 at 9:02 AM

    My guess, some form of mineral condensate, maybe salts ( NaI, KI, NaCl ) or mercury which would imply heat and venting. I doubt if it’s ice as that wouldn’t last long in no atmosphere. Be interesting to see if there is a spectral signature. I’m probably entirely wrong. Fun stuff.

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