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Dawn's earliest views of Ceres were in black and white, showing us a rocky, pockmarked body. Some unusual bright spots showed in these images, giving scientists plenty to ponder as Dawn moved closer to its goal. Researchers shared Dawn's first color map of Ceres, a fascinating enhanced-color image designed to highlight a variety of surface features.
"This dwarf planet was not just an inert rock throughout its history. It was active, with processes that resulted in different materials in different regions. We are beginning to capture that diversity in our color images," said Chris Russell, Dawn mission principal investigator.
Scientists believe Ceres is composed of 25 percent water ice by mass. Its most noticeable features are the many craters across the surface. The color map is one tool researchers are using to sleuth out Dawn's history and how impact craters affect the makeup of the surface. The investigation is still in the early stages.
Ceres' bright spots still remain shrouded in mystery, but answers may soon be forthcoming as Dawn enters a new phase in its study of the dwarf planet starting on April 23. It will be within just 8,400 miles of the surface at that time. This will provide scientists with a set of higher-resolution images to work with.
"The bright spots continue to fascinate the science team, but we will have to wait until we get closer and are able to resolve them before we can determine their source," said Russell.
originally posted by: game over man
Exciting stuff! I bet those bright spots are going to be really bright!!!!
The next optical navigation images of Ceres will be taken on April 10 and April 14, and are expected to be available online after initial analysis by the science team. In the first of these, the dwarf planet will appear as a thin crescent, much like the images taken on March 1, but with about 1.5 times higher resolution. The April 14 images will reveal a slightly larger crescent in even greater detail. Once Dawn settles into the first science orbit on April 23, the spacecraft will begin the intensive prime science campaign.
By early May, images will improve our view of the entire surface, including the mysterious bright spots that have captured the imaginations of scientists and space enthusiasts alike. What these reflections of sunlight represent is still unknown, but closer views should help determine their nature. The regions containing the bright spots will likely not be in view for the April 10 images; it is not yet certain whether they will be in view for the April 14 set.
On May 9, Dawn will complete its first Ceres science phase and begin to spiral down to a lower orbit to observe Ceres from a closer vantage point.
[color emphasis mine]
This map-projected view of Ceres was created from images taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft during its initial approach to the dwarf planet, prior to being captured into orbit in March 2015.
Light colored surfaces reflect away more solar energy than darker ones. This makes them cooler. So what makes the bright spot defy this basic observation of physics? NASA was reportedly surprised by this finding. It doesn't have an answer.
Bright spots on Ceres in visible and infrared:
region "1" (top row) ("cooler" than surroundings);
region "5" (bottom) ("similar in temperature" as surroundings) (April 2015).
Mystery of Ceres’s Bright Spots Grows – Scientific American
Posted on April 16, 2015
What’s lighting up the cold, dead tiny planet of Ceres? The Dawn has gotten a recent closeup of the weird bright spots on the surface of the planet but no one knows exactly what’s causing them. Experts’ best guess is that they are reflections of ice from inside deep caverns,
Images taken using blue (440 nanometers), green (550 nanometers) and infrared (920 nanometers) spectral filters were combined to create the map. The filters were assigned to color channels in reverse order, compared to natural color; in other words, the short-wavelength blue images were assigned to the red color channel and the long-wavelength infrared images are assigned to the blue color channel.
originally posted by: MysterX
a reply to: Soylent Green Is People
So that means that the areas with the bright spots, are now in darkness from the probes' point of view.
I'd like to see images of that bright area while it is in darkness...if it's still bright, that would rule out reflections and mean the light is generated locally, either naturally or artificially.