The mysterious 'pyramid of Ceres' up close

Posted by K R on

One year ago, on March 6, 2015, Nasa's Dawn spacecraft slid gently into orbit around Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Since then, the spacecraft has delivered a wealth of images and other data that open an exciting new window to the previously unexplored dwarf planet.

'Ceres has defied our expectations and surprised us in many ways, thanks to a year's worth of data from Dawn. We are hard at work on the mysteries the spacecraft has presented to us,' said Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator for the mission, based at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Among Ceres' most enigmatic features is a tall mountain the Dawn team named Ahuna Mons.

This mountain appeared as a small, bright-sided bump on the surface as early as February 2015 from a distance of 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers), before Dawn was captured into orbit.

As Dawn circled Ceres at increasingly lower altitudes, the shape of this mysterious feature began to come into focus.

From afar, Ahuna Mons looked to be pyramid-shaped, but upon closer inspection, it is best described as a dome with smooth, steep walls.

Dawn's latest images of Ahuna Mons, taken 120 times closer than in February 2015, reveal that this mountain has a lot of bright material on some of its slopes, and less on others.

On its steepest side, it is about 3 miles (5 kilometers) high.

Read More: Daily Mail Online

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