[meteorite-list] Ceres' Bright Spots Come Back Into View
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:37:06 -0700 (PDT)
Ceres' Bright Spots Come Back Into View
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
April 20, 2015
The two brightest spots on dwarf planet Ceres, which have fascinated scientists
for months, are back in view in the newest images from NASA's Dawn spacecraft.
Dawn took these images on April 14 and 15 from a vantage point 14,000
miles (22,000 kilometers) above Ceres' north pole.
An animation and still image are available here:
The images show the brightest spot and its companion clearly standing
out against their darker surroundings, but their composition and sources
are still un-known. Scientists also see other interesting features, including
heavy cratering. As Dawn gets closer to Ceres, surface features will continue
to emerge at in-creasingly better resolution.
Dawn has now finished delivering the images that have helped mission planners
maneuver the spacecraft to its first science orbit and prepare for subsequent
ob-servations. All of the approach operations have executed flawlessly
and kept Dawn on course and on schedule. Beginning April 23, Dawn will
spend about three weeks in a near-circular orbit around Ceres, taking
observations from 8,400 miles (13,500 kilometers) above the surface. On
May 9, Dawn will begin to make its way to lower orbits to improve the
view and provide higher-resolution observa-tions.
"The approach imaging campaign has completed successfully by giving us
a pre-liminary, tantalizing view of the world Dawn is about to start exploring
in detail. It has allowed us to start asking some new and intriguing questions,"
said Marc Rayman, Dawn's mission director and chief engineer, based at
NASA's Jet Pro-pulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
On March 6, Dawn became the first spacecraft to orbit a dwarf planet,
and the first to orbit two extraterrestrial targets. Scientists will be
comparing Ceres to giant asteroid Vesta, which Dawn studied from 2011
to 2012, in order to gain insights about the formation of our solar system.
Both Vesta and Ceres, located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and
Jupiter, were on their way to becoming planets before their development
Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate
in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program,
managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
UCLA is re-sponsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK, Inc.,
in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace
Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian
Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international
partners on the mission team. For a complete list of acknowledgements,
For more information about Dawn, visit:
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Elizabeth.Landau at jpl.nasa.gov
Received on Mon 20 Apr 2015 06:37:06 PM PDT