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Do You See Bright Spots on Ceres? Icy Bright Spots on Ceres.

Mysterious bright spots on Ceres continue to stump scientists. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

Mysterious bright spots on Ceres continue to stump scientists. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

Ok that was a bad pun for a headline but this IS the best image yet from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft of the curious bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres, which have been puzzled over by scientists since they were first spotted in Hubble observations in Dec. 2003.

And even with this incredible new view of the spots, acquired by Dawn on June 6, their precise nature is still a mystery.

“The bright spots in this configuration make Ceres unique from anything we’ve seen before in the solar system. The science team is working to understand their source. Reflection from ice is the leading candidate in my mind, but the team continues to consider alternate possibilities, such as salt. With closer views from the new orbit and multiple view angles, we soon will be better able to determine the nature of this enigmatic phenomenon,” said Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Animation of Ceres rotating made from Dawn images

Animation of Ceres rotating made from Dawn images (NASA/JPL)

Pretty much the only thing that scientists are quite sure about is that the spots are reflective, and not generating their own light.

“Dawn scientists can now conclude that the intense brightness of these spots is due to the reflection of sunlight by highly reflective material on the surface, possibly ice,” Russell said in an earlier statement.

Do you have an idea what the spots are? Send your vote to NASA.

Learn more about the Dawn mission here and, as always…

Keep Calm Shiny

Source: NASA

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About Jason Major

Jason is a Rhode Island-based graphic designer, photographer, nature lover, space exploration fanatic, and coffee addict. In no particular order.

Posted on June 10, 2015, in Dwarf Planets and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. How awesome would it be if it turns out to be a crashed alien Von Neumann probe? Fermi’s Paradox finally resolved. Or maybe something like the 2001 monolith placed in a very obvious but technologically difficult spot to reach?

    Sadly, I’m pretty sure it’ll be something much more mundane, and we’ll continue to wonder if we’re the only ones — at least in this galaxy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It looks like a bubble in the picture, but not in the video. Why does it not reflect light until towards the outer edge of the light?

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  3. On the NASA site, I voted for “other” like 40% of the voters this day…
    Jeff Barani from Vence (France)

    Like

  4. OpenSocial API Blog site – OpenSocial offers a set of APIs for social applications throughout several web sites.

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