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.”