New images of dwarf planet Ceres, captured by NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft, reveal a shimmering mountain and other interesting geological features.
Located in the southern hemisphere and measuring 4 miles tall, the mountain is cone shaped with no visible debris at the base. The cause of the shimmering on its edge is still to be determined. Scientists speculate it’s due to salt deposits or ice formation.
The Dawn spacecraft orbits at an altitude of 915 miles from the surface of Ceres. Presently, it takes 11 days to capture and send images of entire surface. In those 11 days, Dawn orbits Ceres 14 times. During the upcoming 2 months, the spacecraft should map the surface 6 times.
Discovered in 1801, Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt, located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It’s also the only dwarf planet within Neptune’s orbit.
The Dawn mission not only maps the surface of Ceres, but also uses a visible and infrared mapping spectrometer. This will help scientists’ better analysis the minerals found on the surface. Dawn is scheduled to descend towards its final orbit with an altitude of 230 miles in late October.
Published by Julia Mariani
(Sources: Universe Today, NASA)