Those bright spots on Ceres just got a whole lot weirder

10 Sep 2015

Ceres has been the focus of attention for space junkies for a while now, with NASA’s Dawn spacecraft revealing odd bright spots on its surface recently.

Well, the latest batch of imagery taken from Dawn’s mapping project of the dwarf planet shows that those bright spots, first seen back in April, are far more complex and, well, odd, than first thought.

Dawn is currently whizzing around Ceres, having completed two of the 14 11-day orbits of the rock to get a complete topographical map of its surface.

Currently flying around somewhere in between Mars and Jupiter, Dawn’s work has been animated into a few videos to show just how rugged the terrain is around the Occator crater.

Ceres bright spots

It is in the centre of this that the bright mess lies, with some of the crater walls rising, straight up, for several kilometres.

Guesses as to what the brightness is continue to pursue random, bizarre thoughts. Could it be iron, bursting out from the core? Or maybe loads of tin foil removed from its packaging, ruining the lighting of the photography?

My guess is the T-1000, slowly reforming after getting shot, repeatedly.

NASA actually wants you to help out with suggestions, which is far more ‘get the public enthused’ than ‘quick, the public might know the answer’. Click on the below if you have a good idea.

Ceres bright spot

“Dawn has transformed what was so recently a few bright dots into a complex and beautiful gleaming landscape,” said Marc Rayman, Dawn’s chief engineer and mission director based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“Soon, the scientific analysis will reveal the geological and chemical nature of this mysterious and mesmerising extraterrestrial scenery.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic