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Dawn maps Ceres craters where water ice can accumulate

10 July 2016 Astronomy Now

Scientists with NASA’s Dawn mission have identified permanently shadowed regions on the northern hemisphere of dwarf planet Ceres. Most of these areas likely have been cold enough to trap water ice for a billion years, suggesting that ice deposits could exist there now. These permanently shadowed regions could be colder than those on Mercury or the Moon.

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Recent hydrothermal activity may explain Ceres’ brightest area

30 June 2016 Astronomy Now

The brightest area on Ceres, located in the mysterious Occator Crater, has the highest concentration of carbonate minerals ever seen outside Earth, according to a new study from scientists on NASA’s Dawn mission. The results suggest that liquid water may have existed beneath the surface of Ceres in recent geological time.

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Scientists find fresh impact craters near the Moon’s south pole

23 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Using data from NASA’s Lunar reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have discovered two geologically young craters — one 16 million, the other between 75 and 420 million years old — in the darkest regions of the Moon’s south pole. Such craters provide valuable information on the frequency of collisions in the solar system.

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2007 OR10: the largest unnamed world in the solar system

12 May 2016 Astronomy Now

By combining data from two space observatories, astronomers have revealed something surprising: a 955-mile-wide dwarf planet named 2007 OR10 is significantly larger than previously thought. Although its 547-year-long elliptical orbit brings it nearly as close to the Sun as Neptune, 2007 OR10 is currently twice as far from the Sun as Pluto.

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New Ceres images show bright craters

20 April 2016 Astronomy Now

Craters with bright material on dwarf planet Ceres shine in new images from NASA’s Dawn mission taken from its lowest-altitude mapping orbit. Young crater Haulani (diameter 21 miles) and 6-mile-wide Oxo Crater — the second-brightest feature on Ceres — provide scientists with insight into the dwarf planet’s materials and surface morphology.

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Dawn sees Ceres’ salty spot

24 March 2016 Keith Cooper

The Dawn spacecraft has finally been able to get a good look at the famous bright spot on the surface of Ceres, with NASA releasing new images at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Texas.

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Unexpected changes of bright spots on Ceres discovered

16 March 2016 Astronomy Now

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.

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Take a colourful virtual flight over dwarf planet Ceres

29 January 2016 Astronomy Now

A new animation showing a simulated flight over the surface of dwarf planet Ceres using images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft in its high-altitude mapping orbit has been produced by members of Dawn’s framing camera team at the German Aerospace Center, DLR. The movie emphasises the most prominent craters, such as Occator, and the tall, conical mountain Ahuna Mons.