Midnight In The Desert — Ceres

The mystery of the missing craters on Ceres

Posted by K R on

The mystery of the missing craters on Ceres

When Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres last year the images it beamed back were puzzling. The nearest dwarf planet to Earth was missing the massive craters that astronomers thought would heavily scar the surface. As the Dawn probe swung around the body, the largest in the asteroid belt, its cameras recorded pictures of pockmarked terrain. But even though small craters dotted the Cerean surface, none were larger than the 175-mile-wide dent that is the Kerwan impact crater. This left scientists scratching their heads. Models of collisions in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter held that Ceres should...

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NASA releases cool images of dwarf planet Ceres

Posted by K R on

NASA releases cool images of dwarf planet Ceres

New NASA images reveal the bright craters on dwarf planet Ceres in stunning detail. The pictures from NASA’s Dawn mission were taken 240 miles from the planet’s surface offering an incredible view of Ceres’ Haulani Crater. Evidence of landslides is clearly visible, as is a central ridge and smooth material on the crater floor. NASA notes that an enhanced false-color view gives scientists insight into Ceres. "Haulani perfectly displays the properties we would expect from a fresh impact into the surface of Ceres,” said Martin Hoffmann, co-investigator on the Dawn framing camera team, based at the Max Planck Institute for...

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Scientists teasing out primordial secrets on Ceres, once an ocean world

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Scientists teasing out primordial secrets on Ceres, once an ocean world

THE WOODLANDS, Texas—Ceres is a cold, dead world today. But it wasn't always so, and as researchers delve deeper into images and data collected by the Dawn spacecraft, they continue to find intriguing hints about a world that likely had a large, subsurface ocean during the early days of the solar system. They also have found a number of features on the surface of Ceres they cannot yet explain, deepening the mystery of the dwarf planet’s evolution. The largest object in the asteroid belt, measuring some 950km across, Ceres is roughly the size of Texas. So perhaps it's fitting that...

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The Mystery Of Ceres' Bright Lights Gets More Mysterious

Posted by K R on

The Mystery Of Ceres' Bright Lights Gets More Mysterious

When reflecting on the so-called (according to NASA) reflections of light inside the Occator crater on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres, it’s a good idea not to get too attached to the explanation. Researchers analyzing data not from the Dawn spacecraft but from a planet-hunting telescope say the lights are brightening and dimming at random times throughout the day for no apparent reasons. Is it again time to suspect aliens? While Dawn sent back stunning photos from its approach to and orbit of Ceres, there are other ways to watch it. Astronomers from the INAF-Trieste Astronomical Observatory in...

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The mysterious 'pyramid of Ceres' up close

Posted by K R on

The mysterious 'pyramid of Ceres' up close

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...

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