This stunning view the cratered surface of dwarf planet Ceres comes from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. Mission scientists believe water ice deposits exist in within some of the craters where parts are in permanent shade.
New and very precise observations using the HARPS spectrograph with the ESO 3.6-metre telescope in Chile have not only detected the motion of the enigmatic bright spots on Ceres due to the dwarf planet’s rotation about its axis, but also found unexpected additional variations suggesting that the material of the spots is volatile and evaporates in sunlight.
Since its arrival at dwarf planet Ceres on 6 March this year, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has been slowly spiralling closer to this enigmatic little world. Mission scientist are nearer finding explanations for the intriguing bright spots in a crater named Occator and why an isolated mountain — as high as any in North America — is sitting in the middle of nowhere.