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CosmosUp | January 19, 2019

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Ahuna Mons: Mysterious Mountain On Ceres

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Ahuna Mons: Mysterious Mountain On Dwarf Planet Ceres

One of the most enigmatic features of Ceres is a high, solitary mountain, which the Dawn team scientists has nicknamed Ahuna Mons, a pyramid-shaped three mile high mountain and 15 km (10 mi) wide at the base.

Ceres has defied our expectations and surprised us in many ways, thanks to a year’s worth of data from Dawn,

Dawn deputy principal investigator Carol Raymond said in a statement.

This mountain first appeared in an image captured by Dawn spacecraft back in February 2015 from 46,000 km away of Ceres’ surface, a far away distant at that time, then it seemed as a tiny, bright-sided bump.

Now, Dawn’ recent image of the mountain, taken from low-altitude orbit 120 times closer than those captured in February 2015, gets a much sharper ‘look’ at the mountain, turning out, the feature is no small bump after all. In fact, its look as a dome with smooth, steep walls rises higher than mount Kilimanjaro, NASA scientists described it.

No one expected a mountain on Ceres, especially one like Ahuna Mons,

Chris Russell, Dawn’s principal investigator, said in the statement.

But how this moutain formed? Scientists do not have a satisfactory model to explain it. Though, the spacecraft will complete many low-altitude orbits to better view the entirety of Ceres’ surface, maybe then we could solve some of this dwarf’ secrets.
Raymond added:

We are hard at work on the mysteries the spacecraft has presented to us.

Note: Launched in September 2007, the probe visited Vesta and Ceres, the two largest objects in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, both of which have remained largely unchanged since the beginning of the Solar System. Currently at more than 3.95 AU (367 million miles or 591 million km) from Earth, Dawn is flying at its lowest altitude above Ceres’ surface as part of an effort to map that surface from close range.

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