Dawn captures sharper images of Ceres

February 17, 2015
These two views of Ceres were acquired by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on Feb. 12, 2015, from a distance of about 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) as the dwarf planet rotated. The images have been magnified from their original size. The Dawn spacecraft is due to arrive at Ceres on March 6, 2015. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Craters and mysterious bright spots are beginning to pop out in the latest images of Ceres from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. These images, taken Feb. 12 at a distance of 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet, pose intriguing questions for the science team to explore as the spacecraft nears its destination.

"As we slowly approach the stage, our eyes transfixed on Ceres and her planetary dance, we find she has beguiled us but left us none the wiser," said Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission, based at UCLA. "We expected to be surprised; we did not expect to be this puzzled."

Dawn will be gently captured into orbit around Ceres on March 6. As the spacecraft delivers better images and other data, the science team will be investigating the nature and composition of the , including the nature of the craters and bright spots that are coming into focus. The latest images, which have a resolution of 4.9 miles (7.8 kilometers) per pixel, represent the sharpest views of Ceres to date.

The spacecraft explored the giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months during 2011 and 2012. Scientists gained numerous insights about the geological history of this body and saw its cratered surface in fine detail. By comparing Vesta and Ceres, they will develop a better understanding of the formation of the solar system.

Explore further: Dawn snaps its best-yet image of dwarf planet ceres

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14 comments

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grondilu
5 / 5 (4) Feb 17, 2015
Those white spots are so bright it's hard not to think it is ice.
TopCat22
5 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2015
Base Ceres... lets go do it now. Stop wasting time on Mars. From Base Ceres for refueling water supplies etc... then to Base Titan by 2020 and lets start colonizing!
Tektrix
5 / 5 (6) Feb 17, 2015
Base Ceres... lets go do it now. Stop wasting time on Mars. From Base Ceres for refueling water supplies etc... then to Base Titan by 2020 and lets start colonizing!

I'd be a wealthy woman if I could but invent a rocket engine that ran on unbridled enthusiasm. :)
javjav
4.5 / 5 (2) Feb 17, 2015
Base Ceres... lets go do it now. Stop wasting time on Mars. From Base Ceres for refueling water supplies etc... then to Base Titan by 2020 and lets start colonizing!
It could also work for a trip to Mars. You could send an unmanned ship to Ceres first, (passing by mars but just to get the slingshot effect in the way to Ceres), stop there to get water and convert part of it into fuel during the posterior trip to Mars, then meet a second manned mission on mars orbit. As the initial ship to Ceres can be launched almost empty, and Ceres has little gravity it should be more efficient than bringing the ship full of fuel directly to Mars obit.
t_d_lowe
2.5 / 5 (4) Feb 18, 2015
"As we slowly approach the stage, our eyes transfixed on Ceres and her planetary dance, we find she has beguiled us but left us none the wiser"
I wish scientists could resist the temptation to try and be poets, it just sounds awkward.
big_hairy_jimbo
4.1 / 5 (9) Feb 18, 2015
How exciting!!!!! Not long at all now!!!!! Gimme more pics!!!!
Returners
3 / 5 (2) Feb 18, 2015
I'd be a wealthy woman if I could but invent a rocket engine that ran on unbridled enthusiasm. :)


Solar-electric ion engine.

Melt and electrolize water. Capture Oxygen and Hydrogen to use as propellant.
Solar powered ion drive ignites and uses atoms as propellent, Sun as power supply.

Very, very, very slow, but renewable.
big_hairy_jimbo
5 / 5 (5) Feb 18, 2015
Wow, what's with two down votes for me, simply because I expressed excitement over this mission????
Shootist
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 21, 2015
Wow, what's with two down votes for me, simply because I expressed excitement over this mission????


Many of the posters and most of the lurkers have no honor.
Uncle Ira
4 / 5 (4) Feb 21, 2015
Wow, what's with two down votes for me, simply because I expressed excitement over this mission????


I'll give you the 5 vote. It is good to be excited about these things. Well, in my opinion it is a good thing.
koitsu
5 / 5 (1) Feb 21, 2015
"As we slowly approach the stage, our eyes transfixed on Ceres and her planetary dance, we find she has beguiled us but left us none the wiser"
I wish scientists could resist the temptation to try and be poets, it just sounds awkward.


LOL!
Whoa, careful--remember who's likely to be reading.
koitsu
5 / 5 (3) Feb 21, 2015
Wow, what's with two down votes for me, simply because I expressed excitement over this mission????


I'm with Uncle Ira. You get a fiver from me too.
Humanity won't be going anywhere without a little enthusiasm.
TopCat22
not rated yet Feb 24, 2015
It could also work for a trip to Mars. You could send an unmanned ship to Ceres first, (passing by mars but just to get the slingshot effect in the way to Ceres), stop there to get water and convert part of it into fuel during the posterior trip to Mars, then meet a second manned mission on mars orbit. As the initial ship to Ceres can be launched almost empty, and Ceres has little gravity it should be more efficient than bringing the ship full of fuel directly to Mars obit.


Mars is a worthless gravity sink. Nothing there worth landing anything more on its surface.

Ceres is immensely more valuable a landing pad. It makes a great stop, plenty of water and the right amount of gravity to land and take off from. The next stop would be the moons of Jupiter and then to Titan as the 1st Manned Colony.
TechnoCreed
not rated yet Feb 26, 2015
Marc Rayman's latest blog with new images from Ceres. Enjoy! http://dawnblog.j...uary-25/

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