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IRON AND ICE
Ceres Bright Spots Seen Closer Than Ever
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) May 25, 2015


This image of Ceres is part of a sequence taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on May 16, 2015, from a distance of 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers). Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA. For a larger version of this image please go here.

NASA's Dawn mission captured a sequence of images, taken for navigation purposes, of dwarf planet Ceres on May 16, 2015. The image showcases the group of the brightest spots on Ceres, which continue to mystify scientists. It was taken from a distance of 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) and has a resolution of 2,250 feet (700 meters) per pixel.

"Dawn scientists can now conclude that the intense brightness of these spots is due to the reflection of sunlight by highly reflective material on the surface, possibly ice," Christopher Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission from the University of California, Los Angeles, said recently.

Dawn arrived at Ceres on March 6, marking the first time a spacecraft has orbited a dwarf planet. Previously, the spacecraft explored giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months from 2011 to 2012. Dawn has the distinction of being the only spacecraft to orbit two extraterrestrial targets.

The spacecraft has been using its ion propulsion system to maneuver to its second mapping orbit at Ceres, which it will reach on June 6. The spacecraft will remain at a distance of 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) from the dwarf planet until June 30. Afterward, it will make its way to lower orbits.


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IRON AND ICE
Ceres bright spots: Clearer pictures, but still no answers
Pasadena, Calif. (UPI) May 22, 2015
Scientists had hoped sharper images of Ceres and its mysterious bright spots would provide some clarity as to their nature and origin, but they remain befuddled. Researchers are fairly certain something in the bottom of a large crater is reflecting the sun's rays, but they still can't verify exactly what the reflective material is. NASA's Dawn probe has spent the last several wee ... read more


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