The Dawn spacecraft of US space agency NASA has captured a close-up view of Ceres with the help of its framing camera and obtained some of the rare navigational images of over half of its target dwarf planet.
The researchers and space scientists at the Planetary Science Institute (PSI) have been closely analyzing these navigational images of Ceres. According to them, they have successfully derived the differences related to the albedo features that were identified by the popular Hubble telescope over the portion of Ceres which is observed by Dawn.
PSI Research Scientist Jian-Yang Li said that the reproduction of observations made by the Hubble is very crucial to comprehend the nature of surface of the dwarf planet Ceres. According to Li, the recent episodic water vapor detections near the surface of Ceres by the Herschel Space Observatory at a longitude observed by the Dawn Spacecraft might arise from the activity that could bring numerous changes in the Ceres’ surface with the passing time.
Lead investigator Andreas Nathues said that the new observations already indicate towards the presence of the first surface structures like craters.
Mark Sykes, CEO of the Planetary Science Institute who also co-investigated the mission, said that there is huge possibility of existence of at least one large extended structure at the planet’s surface.
If the structure is tectonic, it could offer greater insight into the interior processes of the dwarf planet, Sykes said.
According to the scientists, the models of Ceres’ interior indicate possibility of an outer ice-rich layer and subsurface oceans.
Dawn’s next observation of Ceres is scheduled on January 26, 2015 and the scientists say this time the images will exceed the resolution of the much-advanced Hubble telescope.
Dawn spacecraft will be captured by the gravity of Ceres on March 6 this year and this event will mark the first time when a spacecraft has ever taken orbit of two solar system targets and studied the protoplanet Vesta for 14 long months.