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Space & Astronomy

Bright spots on Ceres revealed in high detail

July 8, 2018 | Comment icon 6 comments



The bright spots are salt deposits. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/Jason Major
New photographs have emerged showing the distinctive bright spots on Ceres in unprecedented detail.
During its approach of the dwarf planet back in 2015, NASA's Dawn spacecraft captured images showing what appeared to be unusually bright features on Ceres' surface.

The phenomenon was the subject of much debate and speculation until it was finally revealed that the bright patches were actually areas of exposed salt situated within asteroid impact craters.

Fast-forward three years and now the Dawn spacecraft, which is on its lowest orbit around Ceres, has returned a new set of images showing these salt-laden craters in more detail than ever before.
The above image shows Cerealia Facula - the largest deposit in the center of Occator Crater.

"Acquiring these spectacular pictures has been one of the greatest challenges in Dawn's extraordinary extraterrestrial expedition, and the results are better than we had ever hoped," said the mission's chief engineer and project manager Marc Rayman.

"Dawn is like a master artist, adding rich details to the otherworldly beauty in its intimate portrait of Ceres."

Source: EarthSky.org | Comments (6)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Piney 4 years ago
The fact that Ceres might have had seas is amazing.....Sodium carbonate..who would of guessed? 
Comment icon #2 Posted by David Thomson 4 years ago
The photo seems to suggest that the salt is being produced inside the asteroid in a large volume and is being pushed up through the surface. What process creates salt inside an asteroid?
Comment icon #3 Posted by Ozfactor 4 years ago
Would it be the same salt as salt of the earth ?   
Comment icon #4 Posted by paperdyer 4 years ago
Salt being a fairly generic term, it's anyone's guess if the only info we have are pictures, as great as they are.  I would think it's a high probability, though, to be good old NaCl..
Comment icon #5 Posted by UFOwatcher 4 years ago
Hmmm. Wonder if that
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
  Fortunately we don't have to guess what those salts are as we don't only have the pictures, from the NASA article I linked to:   Not NaCl, also from the NASA article:  


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