News

New details on Ceres seen in Dawn images

13 January 2016 Astronomy Now

Features on dwarf planet Ceres that piqued the interest of scientists throughout 2015 stand out in exquisite detail in the latest images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, which recently reached its lowest-ever altitude at Ceres. Dawn took these images near its current altitude of 240 miles (385 kilometers) between 19 and 23 December 2015.

Top Stories 2015

No. 6 Our first up close look at Ceres

2 January 2016 Keith Cooper

In spring 2015 NASA’s Dawn mission, coming off the back of exploring the asteroid Vesta, entered into orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres and immediately found a puzzle for the space probe to unpick.

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Dawn gets the lowdown on dwarf planet Ceres

27 December 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, cruising in its lowest and final orbit at dwarf planet Ceres, has delivered the first images from its best-ever viewpoint. The new images showcase details of the cratered and fractured surface. Dawn is now approximately 240 miles (385 kilometres) above Ceres, which is where it will remain for the rest of its mission.

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New clues to dwarf planet Ceres’ bright spots and origins

9 December 2015 Astronomy Now

The surface of Ceres, whose average diameter is 584 miles, is generally dark and similar in brightness to fresh asphalt. But the dwarf planet does possess 130 mysterious bright areas associated with impact craters that new research suggests are salt-rich areas left behind when briny water-ice from a subsurface layer sublimated in the past.

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Ceres’ bright spots seen in striking new detail

9 September 2015 Astronomy Now

The brightest spots on the dwarf planet Ceres gleam with mystery in new views delivered by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. These closest-yet views of 57-mile-wide impact crater Occator, with a resolution of 450 feet (140 metres) per pixel, give scientists a deeper perspective on these very unusual features — though the precise nature of the spots remains unknown.

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Dawn sends sharper scenes from dwarf planet Ceres

25 August 2015 Astronomy Now

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has delivered the closest-yet views of Ceres, showing the dwarf planet’s surface in unprecedented detail — including the small world’s mysterious four-mile-high conical mountain. At its current orbital altitude, Dawn takes 11 days to capture and return images of Ceres’ whole surface at a resolution of 450 feet (140 metres) per pixel.

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Ceres’ mysterious bright spots and 4-mile-tall pyramidal mountain in 3-D

8 August 2015 Astronomy Now

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.

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New names and insights at dwarf planet Ceres

29 July 2015 Astronomy Now

Colourful new maps of Ceres, based on data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, showcase a diverse topography, with height differences between crater bottoms and mountain peaks as great as 9 miles (15 kilometres). Some of these craters and other features now have official names, inspired by spirits and deities relating to agriculture from a variety of cultures.

Picture This

Fly over Ceres in a new video

9 June 2015 Astronomy Now

A new animated video of dwarf planet Ceres, based on images taken from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft’s first mapping orbit at an altitude of 8,400 miles (13,600 kilometres), as well as the most recent navigational images taken from 3,200 miles (5,100 kilometres), provides a unique perspective of this heavily cratered, mysterious world.

Picture This

Dawn spirals closer to Ceres, returns a new view

29 May 2015 Astronomy Now

A new view of Ceres, taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on May 23rd, shows finer detail is becoming visible on the dwarf planet. The spacecraft snapped the image at a distance of 3,200 miles (5,100 kilometres) with a resolution of 1,600 feet (480 meters) per pixel.