[meteorite-list] Dawn Team Shares New Maps and Insights about Ceres
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:58:06 -0700 (PDT)
Dawn Team Shares New Maps and Insights about Ceres
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
September 30, 2015
This map-projected view of Ceres was created from images taken by NASA's
Dawn spacecraft during its high-altitude mapping orbit, in August and
September, 2015. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Mysteries and insights about Ceres are being discussed this week at the
European Planetary Science Conference in Nantes, France. NASA's Dawn spacecraft
is providing scientists with tantalizing views and other data about the
intriguing dwarf planet that they continue to analyze.
"Ceres continues to amaze, yet puzzle us, as we examine our multitude
of images, spectra and now energetic particle bursts," said Chris Russell,
Dawn principal investigator at the University of California, Los Angeles.
A new color-coded topographic map shows more than a dozen recently approved
names for features on Ceres, all eponymous for agricultural spirits, deities
and festivals from cultures around the world. These include Jaja, after
the Abkhazian harvest goddess, and Ernutet, after the cobra-headed Egyptian
harvest goddess. A 12-mile (20-kilometer) diameter mountain near Ceres'
north pole is now called Ysolo Mons, for an Albanian festival that marks
the first day of the eggplant harvest.
Another new Ceres map, in false color, enhances compositional differences
present on the surface. The variations are more subtle than on Vesta,
Dawn's previous port of call. Color-coded topographic images of Occator
(oh-KAH-tor) crater, home of Ceres' brightest spots, and a puzzling, cone-shaped
4-mile-high (6-kilometer-high) mountain, are also available. Scientists
are still trying to identify processes that could produce these and other
unique Cerean phenomena.
"The irregular shapes of craters on Ceres are especially interesting,
resembling craters we see on Saturn's icy moon Rhea," said Carol Raymond,
Dawn's deputy principal investigator based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, California. "They are very different from the bowl-shaped craters
A surprising bonus observation came from Dawn's gamma ray and neutron
spectrometer. The instrument detected three bursts of energetic electrons
that may result from the interaction between Ceres and radiation from
the sun. The observation isn't yet fully understood, but may be important
in forming a complete picture of Ceres.
"This is a very unexpected observation for which we are now testing hypotheses,"
Dawn is currently orbiting Ceres at an altitude of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers),
and the spacecraft will image the entire surface of the dwarf planet up
to six times in this phase of the mission. Each imaging cycle takes 11
Starting in October and continuing into December, Dawn will descend to
its lowest and final orbit, an altitude of 230 miles (375 kilometers).
The spacecraft will continue imaging Ceres and taking other data at higher
resolutions than ever before at this last orbit. It will remain operational
at least through mid-2016.
Dawn made history as the first mission to reach a dwarf planet, and the
first to orbit two distinct extraterrestrial targets, when it arrived
at Ceres on March 6, 2015. It conducted extensive observations of Vesta
in 2011 and 2012.
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, the Italian Space
Agency and the 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:
Updated on Sept. 30th at 1 p.m. PDT with corrected height of the cone-shaped
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
elizabeth.landau at jpl.nasa.gov
Received on Wed 30 Sep 2015 04:58:06 PM PDT