Mysterious pyramid mountain found on Ceres

22 Jun 2015

Image of Ceres mountain (upper-right) as captured by the Dawn spacecraft. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Ceres continues to mystify NASA researchers, who are analysing the dwarf planet with the help of the Dawn spacecraft, which on its closest approach yet has noticed a rather large pyramid-shaped mountain on its surface.

Dawn has spent the last number of months gradually getting closer to the dwarf planet located between Mars and Jupiter but is now just 4,400km from its surface and in stunning detail shows the odd sites already discovered on the surface.

For some time now, the most obvious landmark on its surface has been the bright spots that still leave NASA struggling to give a definite answer as to what causes them.

However, it has stated that its best estimate is that the bright lights, which are believed to be between 6-9km in diameter, are likely to be a reflective substance, with ice and salt being the main contenders.

Profile of Ceres's mountain

A shot captured by Dawn of the ‘mysterious mound’ on Ceres. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

These recent images, taken on 9 June, also show that the bright spots are joined by dozens of other small, fainter patches related to the larger spots.

These new photos also showed the obvious blemish on the otherwise smooth surface of Ceres, which shows a rather large pyramid-shaped mountain.

No doubt perking the ears of conspiracy theorists, the mountain is referred to as a ‘structure’, which looks to have a peak height of 6km.

Current findings from the dwarf planet’s surface show that it was once rather active, with evidence of flows, landslides and collapsed structures.

Close up of Ceres's bright spots

A cluster of mysterious bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres can be seen in this image, taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic