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Keyword: ceres

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  • New theory on origin of the asteroid belt

    09/14/2017 11:41:53 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 48 replies
    Phys.org ^ | September 14, 2017 | by Bob Yirka
    Abstract The asteroid belt contains less than a thousandth of Earth's mass and is radially segregated, with S-types dominating the inner belt and C-types the outer belt. It is generally assumed that the belt formed with far more mass and was later strongly depleted. We show that the present-day asteroid belt is consistent with having formed empty, without any planetesimals between Mars and Jupiter's present-day orbits. This is consistent with models in which drifting dust is concentrated into an isolated annulus of terrestrial planetesimals. Gravitational scattering during terrestrial planet formation causes radial spreading, transporting planetesimals from inside 1 to 1.5...
  • Bright areas on Ceres suggest geologic activity

    12/13/2017 1:16:23 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 7 replies
    phys.org ^ | December 13, 2017 | Elizabeth Landau
    If you could fly aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft, the surface of dwarf planet Ceres would generally look quite dark, but with notable exceptions. These exceptions are the hundreds of bright areas that stand out in images Dawn has returned. Now, scientists have a better sense of how these reflective areas formed and changed over time—processes indicative of an active, evolving world. ... The first group of bright spots contains the most reflective material on Ceres, which is found on crater floors. The most iconic examples are in Occator Crater, which hosts two prominent bright areas. Cerealia Facula, in the center...
  • Dwarf Planet Ceres May Have Had a Global Ocean in Ancient Past

    11/13/2017 6:39:42 PM PST · by ETL · 28 replies
    Space.com ^ | November 8, 2017 | Nola Taylor Redd, Space.com Contributor
    Nestled in the asteroid belt, the dwarf planet Ceres contains water-rich materials that suggest it once boasted a global ocean in its distant past. Now, two new studies from NASA's Dawn mission may reveal traces of an ancient ocean in the crust, with remnants left behind in the muddy mantle beneath.  Scientists used the tug of gravity on NASA's Dawn spacecraft to track gravitational features across the dwarf planet Ceres. Combined with models of the evolution of the icy surfaces, these observations reveal an ocean mostly frozen into a strong but flexible crust, with a mud-rich inner layer that keeps...
  • NASA's Dawn mission finds life's building blocks on dwarf planet Ceres

    02/16/2017 6:53:27 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    L A Times ^ | Amina Khan
    Ceres, one of five dwarf planets in the solar system, is also an asteroid — the largest of them, in fact. Formed around 4.5 billion years ago, it sits in the belt of rocky debris that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. ... Among the asteroids, Ceres is special. As a dwarf planet, it got stuck somewhere along the way to becoming a full-grown world. Frozen in this state, Ceres also offers a snapshot of planetary adolescence. Scientists have long wondered whether asteroids had not just water but also organic matter that could have been brought to Earth,...
  • Pluto spacecraft gets new mission

    07/03/2016 6:20:18 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    earthsky.org ^ | July 1, 2016 | Deborah Byrd
    In a late-day Friday announcement on July 1, 2016, NASA said that the first-ever spacecraft to visit the dwarf planet Pluto – NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft – has received the nod to fly onward to an object deeper in the Kuiper Belt, known as 2014 MU69. This object had not even been discovered when New Horizons was launched in 2006. The spacecraft will rendezvous with 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019. ... In addition to the extension of the New Horizons mission, NASA determined that the Dawn spacecraft should remain at the dwarf planet Ceres, rather than changing course to...
  • The Bright Spots on Ceres are Blinking

    03/17/2016 8:56:57 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 33 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | 16 Mar , 2016 by | Jason Major
    All right, maybe not blinking like a flashlight... but the now-famous “bright spots” on the dwarf planet Ceres have been observed to detectably increase and decrease in brightness, if ever-so-slightly. And what’s particularly interesting is that these observations were made not by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, currently in orbit around Ceres, but from a telescope right here on Earth. Researchers using the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) instrument on ESO’s 3.6-meter telescope at La Silla detected “unexpected” changes in the brightness of Ceres during observations in July and August of 2015. Variations in line with Ceres’ 9-hour rotational period—specifically...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Dwarf Planet Ceres

    02/04/2016 3:10:39 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 28 replies
    NASA ^ | February 04, 2016 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Dwarf planet Ceres is the largest object in the Solar System's main asteroid belt, with a diameter of about 950 kilometers (590 miles). Ceres is seen here in approximately true color, based on image data from the Dawn spacecraft recorded on May 4, 2015. On that date, Dawn's orbit stood 13,642 kilometers above the surface of the small world. Two of Ceres' famous mysterious bright spots at Oxo crater and Haulani crater are near center and center right of this view. Casting a telltale shadow at the bottom is Ceres' cone-shaped, lonely mountain Ahuna Mons. Presently some 385 kilometers...
  • NASA brings Ceres to life with colorful animation

    02/01/2016 7:35:06 AM PST · by WhiskeyX · 5 replies
    Fox News ^ | January 29, 2016 | NASA / JPL
    It was only a matter of time before someone made a short video with Ceres as the star. The dwarf planet, which has been the focus of the NASA’s Dawn spacecraft of late, lies between Mars and Jupiter. With an average diameter of 590 miles, there has been plenty for Dawn to study since arriving in March 2013. NASA has taken full of advantage of the fact this is the first mission to achieve orbit around a dwarf planet – releasing scores of images of Ceres and now a nearly four minute animation that gets up close and personal.
  • Enceladus, Ceres closeups captured by NASA spacecraft

    12/23/2015 6:12:39 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 15 replies
    CBC ^ | 12/23/2015
    The new views of Enceladus are from the Cassini spacecraft's final close flyby of that moon on Dec. 19, from 4,999 kilometres. They include views of both older, cratered terrain, and younger, furrowed areas of the surface. During previous flybys, Cassini has come as close as within 50 kilometres of the surface, diving through the icy geysers spewing from the moon's surface from what is thought to be a liquid ocean underneath ... While Cassini has left Enceladus, NASA's Dawn spacecraft is just beginning to get more intimate with the dwarf planet Ceres. You may feel as if you're soaring...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Brightest Spot on Ceres

    12/11/2015 3:57:39 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | December 11, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Dwarf planet Ceres is the largest object in the Solar System's main asteroid belt with a diameter of about 950 kilometers. Exploring Ceres from orbit since March, the Dawn spacecraft's camera has revealed about 130 or so mysterious bright spots, mostly associated with impact craters scattered around the small world's otherwise dark surface. The brightest one is near the center of the 90 kilometer wide Occator Crater, seen in this dramatic false color view combining near-infrared and visible light image data. A study now finds the bright spot's reflected light properties are probably most consistent with a type of...
  • Mystery Solved? Ceres' Bright Spots Likely Made of [Epsom] Salt

    12/09/2015 12:54:48 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 5 replies
    space.com ^ | December 09, 2015 01:01pm ET | Mike Wall
    Observations made by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which has been orbiting the dwarf planet since March, suggest that Ceres' many bright spots could be made primarily of hydrated magnesium sulfates. Here on Earth, magnesium sulfate is sold as Epsom salt, a popular home remedy for a variety of ailments, including sore feet and joint inflammation. Scientists released an amazing new video of Ceres' bright spots in crystal clarity along with their new findings today (Dec. 9). ... These whitish patches are mostly associated with impact craters, the team found, and they're much brighter than Ceres' surface as a whole, which is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Bright Spots Resolved in Occator Crater on Ceres

    09/16/2015 1:44:15 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | September 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What created these bright spots on Ceres? The spots were first noted as the robotic Dawn spacecraft approached Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt, in February, with the expectation that the mystery would soon be solved in higher resolution images. However, even after Dawn arrived at Ceres in March, the riddle remained. Surprisingly, although images including the featured composite taken in the last month do resolve many details inside Occator crater, they do not resolve the mystery. Another recent clue is that a faint haze develops over the crater's bright spots. Dawn is scheduled to continue to...
  • Bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres seen in greater detail

    09/10/2015 11:12:01 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 26 replies
    CBS ^ | September 9, 2015, 6:59 PM | WIlliam Harwood
    The latest images from Dawn reveal surface features as small as 450 feet across. The two bright spots are now resolved into one very bright area near the center of a crater known as Occator with about eight smaller concentrations to one side surrounding an area where the deposits appear more spread out. Researchers with the Dawn project have not yet weighed in on what the bright material might be or how it got there. "Although our data are now of higher resolution, we're still missing key pieces of information that we really need to know the whole picture," Carol...
  • Ceres Mystery Gets MORE Mysterious

    09/04/2015 4:19:15 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 27 replies
    unknowncountry.com ^ | Friday, September 4, 2015
    Christopher Russell, Professor of Geophysics and Space Physics at UCLA cannot discuss the new high resolution images from Ceres because they have been embargoed by the science journal Nature. ... Russell was able to discuss the issue of Ceres' strange bright spots, appearing prominently in both the large crater known as 'Occator', of which is 60 miles (90 km) across and 2 miles (4 km) deep, and on the slopes of an extremely strange, pyramid-shaped mountain that is 4 miles (6 km) tall. These spots, as described by professor Russell, appear to be a powdery substance that is deposited on...
  • Ceres’ “Pyramid” Gets a Closer Look, But Bright Spots Remain a Mystery

    08/26/2015 4:43:21 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 14 replies
    Universe Today ^ | August 26, 2015 | Nancy Atkinson
    The Dawn spacecraft is now orbiting just 1,470 kilometers (915 miles) above Ceres’ surface, and the science team released these latest images. Above is a closest view yet of the so-called ‘pyramid’ on Ceres, although the closer Dawn gets, the less this feature looks like a pyramid. It’s actually more like a conical mountain with a flat top, almost like a butte. ... The mountain is located in the southern hemisphere, and stands 6 kilometers (4 miles) high. Visible on the sides of the mountain are narrow braided fractures and an intriguing bright area. Only time will tell if this...
  • The 4-mile-tall pyramid mountain on dwarf planet Ceres is glowing

    08/08/2015 3:22:46 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 55 replies
    In its latest video, posted Thursday, NASA shows us that in addition to the intriguing bright spots in a large crater on Ceres, there are also bright streaks running down the sides of a pyramid-shaped mountain rising higher than Alaska's 20,000-foot (6,100 meter) Mt. McKinley. ... And then there's that conical, almost pyramid-looking mountain that rises 4 miles high and is oddly dark on one side while the other side glows with bright streaks that seem similar in their effect to what's causing the other bright spots. "What does this structure tell us about how this world works?" Rayman says....
  • What's That Spot On World Ceres?

    07/31/2015 8:51:48 AM PDT · by JimSEA · 21 replies
    JPL ^ | Unknown | NASA
    What's the spot on World Ceres? Can you guess what's creating those unusual bright spots on Ceres? On March 6, NASA's Dawn spacecraft began orbiting Ceres, the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Even before the spacecraft arrived at the dwarf planet, images revealed mysterious bright spots that captivated scientists and observers alike. Until Dawn gets a closer look over the next few months, it's anyone's guess what those spots could be. So, go ahead! Cast your vote below. - See more at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/dawn/world_ceres/#sthash.bwDwq56N.dpuf
  • Ceres Resembles Saturn’s Icy Moons

    07/28/2015 11:14:36 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 4 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on July 28, 2015 | Jason Major
    Ceres’ topography is revealed in full (but false) color in a new map created from elevation data gathered by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, now nearly five months in orbit around the dwarf planet orbiting the Sun within the main asteroid belt. With craters 3.7 miles (6 km) deep and mountains rising about the same distance from its surface, Ceres bears a resemblance to some of Saturn’s frozen moons. “The craters we find on Ceres, in terms of their depth and diameter, are very similar to what we see on Dione and Tethys, two icy satellites of Saturn that are about the...
  • Mysterious 'Haze' Seen Above Ceres' Weird Bright Spots

    07/21/2015 7:27:36 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 32 replies
    discovery.com ^ | Jul 21, 2015 06:13 PM ET // by | Ian O'Neill
    “At noontime, if you look at a glancing angle, you can see what seems to be haze,” said Christopher Russell, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Dawn principal investigator. “It comes back in a regular pattern.” According to Russell, who was speaking at a NASA exploration meeting at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., the haze covers about half of the crater and reaches as far as the rim. So far, scientists have theorized that the bright spots could be concentrations of minerals or salts. Or they might be icy deposits; potentially evidence...
  • Is That a Big Crater on Pluto? Pyramidal Mountain Found on Ceres

    07/01/2015 5:53:46 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 9 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on June 30, 2015 | Bob King
    You’re probably as eager as I am for new images of Pluto and Ceres as both New Horizons and Dawn push ever closer to their respective little worlds. Recent photos, of which there are only a few, reveal some wild new features including what appears to a large crater on Pluto. In the end, this apparent large impact might only be a contrast effect or worse, an artifact of over-processing, but there’s no denying its strong resemblance to foreshortened, shadow-filled craters seen on the Moon and other moons. It’s also encouraging that an earlier photo from June 27 shows the...