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.
There are lots of things you might expect to find on the largest object in the Asteroid Belt. But bright, shiny polka dots are probably not on that list. And yet, there they are! More than 130 perplexingly bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres!
A new dramatic pics, the closest pics yet of the dwarf planet Ceres, sent by NASA’ Dawn spacecraft last week, show several features of the small world in unprecedented detail, including tall, conical mountain — a ‘pyramid on Ceres’, as it called by scientists — as well as wide cylindrical depressions and even some large craters.
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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is getting progressively closer to the dwarf planet Ceres, as the latest image shows.
Nasa’ spacecraft Dawn is preparing to rendezvous with the largest object in the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter. The Dawn craft is on target to slip into orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres on Friday after a three-year journey. It will be the second stop for Dawn, which earlier visited the asteroid Vesta. Dawn has been snapping pictures of Ceres as it nears the Texas-sized object. Sharper images are expected in the coming months as Dawn spirals closer to Ceres’ surface.
The latest images of Ceres, captured by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft as it comes ever closer to its rendezvous with the dwarf planet, are the sharpest yet obtained, scientists say. Taken as Dawn moves toward entering orbit around Ceres on March 6, the new and improved images have raised more questions about the dwarf planet and its surface than they have provided answers, say scientists.
In March, NASA’ Dawn spacecraft will arrive ceres to begin the first close-up examination of a dwarf planet. Ceres is 600 miles wide the largest of the asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. “We’re going to reveal the fascinating details of a giant world of rock and ice,” said Marc Rayman, the chief engineer for NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. “Ceres has 38 percent of the area of the continental United States. It’s actually the largest body between the sun and Pluto that a spacecraft has not yet visited.”
Two hundred and fourteen years ago, on Jan. 1 1801, the discovery of a faint celestial body set the stage for one of the biggest arguments in astronomy — planetary classification. Ceres, an asteroid the size of Texas, was known as the solar system’s largest rock for nearly two centuries. Until 2006, when a debate on the planetary status of Pluto called for a reclassification of Ceres to dwarf planet status.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has the protoplanet Ceres in its sight, and soon will have a close encounter with this unusual alien world. Still, before Dawn get’s there, it may help to answer some questions such as “what exactly is Ceres?”
Ceres was classified as a dwarf planet, but it’s also considered an asteroid. Discovered on January 1, 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi, Ceres has a diameter of 950 km and it is by far the largest and most massive asteroid from the asteroid belt, containing one third of the total mass of the asteroid belt.