The scientists have discovered not just one, but two bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres.
The two bright spots on Ceres were spotted by US space agency NASA’s Dawn spacecraft.
According to NASA scientists, Dawn detected the spots as it got closer to the planet’s orbit and captured latest images from a distance of approximately 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) from Ceres.
The new images show a bright spot standing out in previous photographs laying close to yet another bright area.
Dawn’s principal investigator Chris Russell said that the bright spot at Ceres have a lesser brighter companion in apparently same basin. This may be indicating towards a volcano-like origin of the bright spots, but the scientists would have to wait longer for images with better resolution before deriving any geologic interpretations.
Dawn used its ion propulsion system to enter into the orbit around the dwarf planet on March 6.
The scientists are hoping to receive better images with rare view and higher clarity of the dwarf planet in the next 16 months. According to them, this will help in better understanding of its origin as well as evolution of Ceres and its surface.
Lead study investigator Andreas Nathues said, “The brightest spot continues to be too small to resolve with our camera, but despite its size it is brighter than anything else on Ceres. This is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us.”
Dawn spacecraft visited the massive asteroid Vesta between 2011 and 2012, and delivered over 30,000 images of the body accompanies with several other measurements. This provided close insights into its composition as well as geological history.
The average diameter of Ceres is 590 miles (950 kilometers), while Vesta’s average diameter is 326 miles (525 kilometers). Both Ceres and Vesta are the two giant bodies located in the asteroid belt, lying between Jupiter and Mars.