'Bright Spot' on Ceres Has Dimmer Companion


This image was taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA


NASA Press Release

'Bright Spot' on Ceres Has Dimmer Companion
February 25, 2015


Dwarf planet Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA's Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the object. The latest images from Dawn, taken nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) from Ceres, reveal that a bright spot that stands out in previous images lies close to yet another bright area.

"Ceres' bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin. This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations," said Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Using its ion propulsion system, Dawn will enter orbit around Ceres on March 6. As scientists receive better and better views of the dwarf planet over the next 16 months, they hope to gain a deeper understanding of its origin and evolution by studying its surface. The intriguing bright spots and other interesting features of this captivating world will come into sharper focus.
"The brightest spot continues to be too small to resolve with our camera, but despite its size it is brighter than anything else on Ceres. This is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us," said Andreas Nathues, lead investigator for the framing camera team at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Gottingen, Germany.

Dawn visited the giant asteroid Vesta from 2011 to 2012, delivering more than 30,000 images of the body along with many other measurements, and providing insights about its composition and geological history. Vesta has an average diameter of 326 miles (525 kilometers), while Ceres has an average diameter of 590 miles (950 kilometers). Vesta and Ceres are the two most massive bodies in the asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter.

Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK, Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.

For a complete list of acknowledgements, visit:
http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission



2 Views of Ceres on Approach, Uncropped. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained these uncropped images of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19, 2015, from a distance of about 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers). They are part of a series taken as Dawn observed Ceres completing one full rotation, which lasted about nine hours.

The images show the full range of different crater shapes that can be found at Ceres' surface: From shallow, flattish craters to those with peaks at their centers. These views show sections of Ceres' surface that are similar to those in PIA19056 .
Dawn is due to be captured into orbit around Ceres on March 6.



2 Views of Ceres on Approach, Uncropped. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained these uncropped images These images of dwarf planet Ceres, processed to enhance clarity, were taken on Feb. 19, 2015, from a distance of about 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers), by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Dawn observed Ceres completing one full rotation, which lasted about nine hours.

The images show the full range of different crater shapes that can be found at Ceres' surface: From shallow, flattish craters to those with peaks at their centers. These views show sections of Ceres' surface that are similar to those in PIA19056.


'Bright Spot' on Ceres Has Dimmer Companion | Credit: NASA

NASA Finds Mysterious Bright Spot on
Dwarf Planet Ceres: What Is It?



A mysterious white spot can be seen in the newest images from NASA's Dawn space telescope,
which is rapidly approaching the dwarf planet.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PS


NASA Press Release

Original sighting..
February 25, 2015


A strange, flickering white blotch found on the dwarf planet Ceres by a NASA spacecraft has scientists scratching their heads.

The white spot on Ceres in a series of new photos taken on Jan. 13 by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which is rapidly approaching the round dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. But when the initial photo release on Monday (Jan. 19), the Dawn scientists gave no indication of what the white dot might be.

"Yes, we can confirm that it is something on Ceres that reflects more sunlight, but what that is remains a mystery," Marc Rayman, mission director and chief engineer for the Dawn mission, told Space.com in an email

SOURCE: Space.Com
  Additions by Russo, Pegasus Team February 25, 2015

Interesting news about Ceres. Now they see two "spotlights" in there. A dwarf planet is shining two bright lights at a NASA spacecraft right now, and our smartest scientists are unsure what they are. Well we shall see in the next months. Or not


As bizarre as that sentence sounds, that's the situation with Ceres — the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, officially designated as a dwarf planet (the same category as Pluto).


Previous Dawn images from further away showed a single light on Ceres, which was just as mysterious. Then, to the amazement of every astronomy geek, the one light turned out to be two — reflecting roughly 40% of the light hitting them.


An artist's depiction of the dwarf planet Ceres. Observations by ESA's Herschel space observatory between 2011 and 2013 find that the dwarf planet has a thin water vapor atmosphere.

Quote
"This is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us," said Andreas Nathues, lead investigator for the framing camera team at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, in a NASA statement. "The brightest spot [of the two] continues to be too small to resolve with our camera, but despite its size it is brighter than anything else on Ceres."

So what could the bright spots be, other than alien castaways signaling at us with flashlights?

The most obvious contender is ice, although ice would reflect more than 40% of all light hitting it. The difference may be accounted for by the resolution limit of Dawn's camera at this distance. Scientists have previously detected water vapor coming from the surface of the dwarf planet, making ice — a more likely option.

Scientists have also suggested the bright areas could be patches of salt. On the other hand, the location of the two bright spots so close together may be an indication that they have a geologic origin, such as some sort of volcanic process, possibly even ice volcanoes.

According to Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, the positioning of the bright spots within the same area may indicate "a volcano-like origin of the spots," but scientists will have to wait for higher resolution images before making such interpretations. Scientists don't think the spots comprise lava similar to that seen on Earth, since that would shine more brightly.

We'll find out more as Dawn approaches Ceres next week and more imagery comes in during the next 16 months, according to NASA. In the meantime, here's more on Dawn and its eight-year mission:

'Bright Spot' on Ceres Has Dimmer Companion

Potential for extraterrestrial life:

Although not as actively discussed as a potential home for extraterrestrial life as Mars, Titan or Europa, the presence of water ice has led to speculation that life may exist there, and that hypothesized ejecta could have come from Ceres to Earth.

Ceres (dwarf planet) - Wikipedia

  Additions by Russo, Pegasus Team May 14, 2015

Thanks to user ZLD from HERE







Montage
Where there were two, now there are 10! Ceres photographed on May 3 and 4 by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft show multiple white spots inside the 57-mile-wide crater located in the asteroid’s  northern hemisphere. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA / montage by Tom Ruen ~ SOURCE


YOUTUBE LINK
Published on May 12, 2015
May 4, 2015
Cropped from NASA


NASA PIA19547: Ceres RC3 Animation



This animation shows a sequence of images taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on May 4, 2015, from a distance of 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometers), in its RC3 mapping orbit. The image resolution is 0.8 mile (1.3 kilometers) per pixel.

In this closest-yet view, the brightest spots within a crater in the northern hemisphere are revealed to be composed of many smaller spots. However, their exact nature remains unknown.

Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK, Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of acknowledgements, visit http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission.

For more information about the Dawn mission

Image Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Image Addition Date:
2015-05-11

  Additions by Russo, Pegasus Team June 05, 2015

Revised Ceres map:


SOURCE

Mission Status Updates

- from Chief Engineer/ Mission Director, Marc Rayman (JPL)
2015
May 26, 2015 - Dawn Reaching to Lower Altitudes

Dawn is following the carefully plotted trajectory around Ceres, maneuvering to prepare for its second mapping campaign next month. The probe's mapping orbits are nearly circular, but during the flight from one to another, the intermediate orbits are more elliptical. Tonight Dawn's complicated route will take it temporarily below the targeted mapping orbital altitude of 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers). It will descend to 2,500 miles (4,100 kilometers) tomorrow before beginning another ascent.

On May 22 Dawn photographed Ceres to help the navigation team maintain a tight fix on its orbital position. Controllers used the opportunity to acquire bonus visible and infrared spectra.

NASA DAWN MISSION


Mound:


Here's another way of viewing the mound in RC3. Centered and rotated the frames to re-project a flyover of the area.
The mound appears to be sitting on either highlands or an uplift of some sort. Interesting!  SOURCE



    The "cone":
This appears to be stranger than it first appeared to me. It almost seems to be a conical depression rather than a crater.
Then, the bright areas appear to maybe even be flows from this depression. Maybe this is a ground level geyser? - SOURCE



It seems dawn arrived the the survey orbit. Time to keep the eyes wide open for news.

Mission Status Updates

- from Chief Engineer/ Mission Director, Marc Rayman (JPL)
June 3, 2015 - Dawn Arrives in Second Mapping Orbit

Dawn completed the maneuvering to reach its second mapping orbit and stopped ion-thrusting on schedule this morning. Since May 9, the spacecraft has reduced its orbital altitude from 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometers) to 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers). The orbit period has correspondingly decreased from 15.2 days to 3.1 days. Dawn is scheduled to begin its new observations on June 5, as explained in the most recent Dawn Journal. First, however, the mission control team will measure the actual orbit parameters accurately and transmit them to the spacecraft.

http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html


Nice collage from an Italian user at NASA Blog: (click in the picture to enlarge)



Daniele Bianchino says:
March 3, 2015 at 9:59 am

Hello everyone, I am excited to new photos and for your great work; I’m very happy, and my question was read in the ” Dwarft planet arrival, nasa jpl, March 2? (latest Question)  :-D
This is my final collage, very accurate, I have represent in accurate scale Ceres, Vesta, the most important asteroids visited by a space probe, 3 icy moons (Mimas, Miranda, Enceladus), Mars moons (Phobos and Deimos) and the strange asteroid Chariklo (as I have imagined).

I hope all like it.
Daniele, Italy


SOURCE

Fly Over Dwarf Planet Ceres


Fly Over Dwarf Planet Ceres

Published on Jun 8, 2015
A new video animation of dwarf planet Ceres, based on images taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, provides dramatic flyover views of this heavily cratered, mysterious world. The images come from Dawn's first mapping orbit at Ceres, at an altitude of 8,400 mile (13,600 kilometers), as well as navigational images taken from 3,200 miles (5,100 kilometers) away. The images provided information for a three-dimensional terrain model. The vertical dimension has been exaggerated by a factor of two, and a star field has been added in the background.

Fly Over Dwarf Planet Ceres - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

  Additions by Russo, Pegasus Team June 10, 2015

Bright Spots in Ceres' Second Mapping Orbit JUNE 10, 2015


The brightest spots on dwarf planet Ceres are seen in this image taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on June 6, 2015. This is among the first snapshots from Dawn's second mapping orbit, which is 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) in altitude. The resolution is 1,400 feet (410 meters) per pixel.

Scientists are still puzzled by the nature of these spots, and are considering explanations that include salt and ice.

Bright Spots in Ceres' Second Mapping Orbit.
- NASA Dawn Mission - Full Res Image Here
Also some interesting comments taken from this forum: unmannedspaceflight.com
Comment from Jaro_in_Montreal
post Today, 01:58 PM
With the image darkened a little, it looks as though some internal structure begins to appear in the white spots.....

Comment from alk3997
post Today, 03:18 PM
Lots of compression artifacts when zoomed in. Below is a 4x view of white spot 5 with very little processing from the original.

The dark streak to the east and attached to the main bright area, heading southeast, is interesting. I don't think that is a processing artifact.

I have to agree that almost none of the bright area is resolved even in this view. However, it almost looks to me that the main bright area is a mound covered by bright material. But that is certainly more imagination than analysis.

Source: unmannedspaceflight.com


  Additions by Russo, Pegasus Team June 22, 2015
 
Ceres Spots Continue to Mystify in Latest Dawn Images
PIA19579: Dawn Survey Orbit Image 11




The closer we get to Ceres, the more intriguing the distant dwarf planet becomes. New images of Ceres from NASA's Dawn spacecraft provide more clues about its mysterious bright spots, and also reveal a pyramid-shaped peak towering over a relatively flat landscape.

"The surface of Ceres has revealed many interesting and unique features. For example, icy moons in the outer solar system have craters with central pits, but on Ceres central pits in large craters are much more common. These and other features will allow us to understand the inner structure of Ceres that we cannot sense directly," said Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.



Original Caption Released with Image:

A cluster of mysterious bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres can be seen in this image, taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft from an altitude of 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers). The image, with a resolution of 1,400 feet (410 meters) per pixel, was taken on June 9, 2015.

Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK, Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team. For a complete list of acknowledgments, see http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/mission.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Image Addition Date: 2015-06-22
NASA PIA19579




Dawn has been studying the dwarf planet in detail from its second mapping orbit, which is 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) above Ceres. A new view of its intriguing bright spots, located in a crater about 55 miles (90 kilometers) across, shows even more small spots in the crater than were previously visible.

At least eight spots can be seen next to the largest bright area, which scientists think is approximately 6 miles (9 kilometers) wide. A highly reflective material is responsible for these spots -- ice and salt are leading possibilities, but scientists are considering other options, too.

Dawn's visible and infrared mapping spectrometer allows scientists to identify specific minerals present on Ceres by looking at how light is reflected. Each mineral reflects the range of visible and infrared-light wavelengths in a unique way, and this signature helps scientists determine the components of Ceres. So, as the spacecraft continues to send back more images and data, scientists will learn more about the mystery bright spots.

In addition to the bright spots, the latest images also show a mountain with steep slopes protruding from a relatively smooth area of the dwarf planet's surface. The structure rises about 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the surface.

Ceres also has numerous craters of varying sizes, many of which have central peaks. There is ample evidence of past activity on the surface, including flows, landslides and collapsed structures. It seems that Ceres shows more remnants of activity than the protoplanet Vesta, which Dawn studied intensively for 14 months in 2011 and 2012.

Dawn is the first mission to visit a dwarf planet, and the first to orbit two distinct targets in our solar system. It arrived at Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, on March 6, 2015.

Dawn will remain in its current altitude until June 30, continuing to take images and spectra of Ceres in orbits of about three days each. It then will move into its next orbit at an altitude of 900 miles (1,450 kilometers), arriving in early August.

Dawn's mission is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate's Discovery Program, managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.

NASA PRESS RELEASE JUNE 22, 2015





What are those unusual bright spots on Ceres? Cast your vote HERE






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'Bright Spot' on Ceres Has Dimmer Companion