[meteorite-list] Ceres' Bright Spots Seen in Striking New Detail
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2015 13:18:40 -0700 (PDT)
Ceres' Bright Spots Seen in Striking New Detail
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
September 9, 2015
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.
Scientists also have produced animations that provide a virtual fly-around
of the crater, including a colorful topographic map.
Dawn scientists note the rim of Occator crater is almost vertical in some
places, where it rises steeply for 1 mile (nearly 2 kilometers).
Views from Dawn's current orbit, taken at an altitude of 915 miles (1,470
kilometers), have about three times better resolution than the images
the spacecraft delivered from its previous orbit in June, and nearly 10
times better than in the spacecraft's first orbit at Ceres in April and
"Dawn has transformed what was so recently a few bright dots into a complex
and beautiful, gleaming landscape," said Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer
and mission director based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena,
California. "Soon, the scientific analysis will reveal the geological
and chemical nature of this mysterious and mesmerizing extraterrestrial
The spacecraft has already completed two 11-day cycles of mapping the
surface of Ceres from its current altitude, and began the third on Sept.
9. Dawn will map all of Ceres six times over the next two months. Each
cycle consists of 14 orbits. By imaging Ceres at a slightly different
angle in each mapping cycle, Dawn scientists will be able to assemble
stereo views and construct 3-D maps.
Dawn is the first mission to visit a dwarf planet, and the first to orbit
two distinct solar system targets. It orbited protoplanet Vesta for 14
months in 2011 and 2012, and arrived at Ceres on March 6, 2015.
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 responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc.,
in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace
Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space
Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international
partners on the mission team. For a complete list of mission participants,
More information about Dawn is available at the following sites:
Elizabeth Landau / Preston Dyches
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6425 / 818-354-7013
elizabeth.landau at jpl.nasa.gov / preston.dyches at jpl.nasa.gov
Received on Thu 10 Sep 2015 04:18:40 PM PDT