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Space & Astronomy

NASA solves mystery of bright spots on Ceres

By T.K. Randall
May 13, 2015 · Comment icon 237 comments



NASA has managed to get to the bottom of the mystery. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
New photographs have provided important new clues to help solve the riddle of the mystery bright spots.
As NASA's Dawn spacecraft approached the enigmatic dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, one of the first things that caught people's attention was a mysterious bright spot inside a crater on its surface.

Now at last NASA has been able to determine that these peculiar features are actually the result of sunlight reflecting off of something highly reflective on the planet's surface.

New images taken of Ceres have revealed that the two most prominent bright spots are actually made up of several smaller ones and that the whole surface appears to be littered with them.


"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," said Christopher Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission.

While there is still a lot of work to do to confirm that the reflective material is indeed ice, NASA scientists are hoping that Dawn will provide the information they need over the coming months.

Source: Washington Post | Comments (237)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #228 Posted by Occams Razor 7 years ago
Better still... there are also impact diamonds: https://en.wikipedia.../Popigai_crater According to this: https://en.wikipedia...s_(dwarf_planet) The composition of Ceres includes carbonates so maybe the bright spots are more likely to be diamonds. You'll have to figure out a way of getting there Astra. According to 'Waspie_Dwarf' Ceres is "a world made largely of salt water ice". If this is true it's unlikely ice is the cause of the bright spots as bright spots would be common all over the surface... it would look like it had shiny measles.
Comment icon #229 Posted by Merc14 7 years ago
Better still... there are also impact diamonds: https://en.wikipedia.../Popigai_crater According to this: https://en.wikipedia...s_(dwarf_planet) The composition of Ceres includes carbonates so maybe the bright spots are more likely to be diamonds. You'll have to figure out a way of getting there Astra. According to 'Waspie_Dwarf' Ceres is "a world made largely of salt water ice". If this is true it's unlikely ice is the cause of the bright spots as bright spots would be common all over the surface... it would look like it had shiny measles. I don't think you'd be getting either of those effec... [More]
Comment icon #230 Posted by Nnicolette 7 years ago
For once i agree with you merc there would have to be more than ice for the impact to have caused molten glass or Diamonds to form... and also they wouldnt still be sitting on top of the ice it would have at least melted in im guessing.
Comment icon #231 Posted by Merc14 7 years ago
For once i agree with you merc there would have to be more than ice for the impact to have caused molten glass or Diamonds to form... and also they wouldnt still be sitting on top of the ice it would have at least melted in im guessing. Come on NN, you agree with me ALL the time, you just won't admit it. I have to say that I am postulating here and if I am wrong then hopefully someone will chime in and set me/us straight but I can't see Ceres surface reacting like earth's desert to an impact. I'm thinking more like a frozen slushy with a dusty layer in an almost zero G, zero atmosphere, enviro... [More]
Comment icon #232 Posted by Astra- 7 years ago
The composition of Ceres includes carbonates so maybe the bright spots are more likely to be diamonds. Well that would make it one hell of an expensive crater - if that brilliant bright bling on Ceres are diamonds That's ok though - you are entitled to your opinion I'll stick with the possibility that the spots are a mixture of crystallized salt / ice at this time - especially since there are other bright - but less dense regions - in comparison to the crater. You'll have to figure out a way of getting there Astra. Why ? - I'd freeze to death
Comment icon #233 Posted by Occams Razor 7 years ago
For once i agree with you merc there would have to be more than ice for the impact to have caused molten glass or Diamonds to form... and also they wouldnt still be sitting on top of the ice it would have at least melted in im guessing. That's why I thought glass or diamonds... whatever it is will have to be pretty robust.
Comment icon #234 Posted by Occams Razor 7 years ago
That's ok though - you are entitled to your opinion No worries Astra... opinions are what forums are all about. Why ? - I'd freeze to death Because diamonds are a girl's best friend aren't they?
Comment icon #235 Posted by Astra- 7 years ago
Because diamonds are a girl's best friend aren't they? Well Marilyn Monroe might have thought so.But I'm a more pearls kinda gal
Comment icon #236 Posted by Hammerclaw 7 years ago
Well Marilyn Monroe might have thought so. But I'm a more pearls kinda gal But Diamonds are Forever! https://youtu.be/qPeSPB68i2c
Comment icon #237 Posted by Frank Merton 7 years ago
There are a lot of bizarre things it could be, but frozen brine seems most likely to me. As had been said so often, if you are in Kansas City and hear galloping animals out the window, don't assume zebra.


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