Dawn has been studying the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, in detail from its second mapping orbit, which is 4,400 km above Ceres.

A new view of its intriguing bright spots, located in a crater 90 km across, shows even more small spots in the crater than were previously visible, US space agency said.


At least eight spots can be seen next to the largest bright area, which scientists think is approximately nine kilometres wide. Although ice and salt are leading candidates that could explain these spots, scientists are considering other options, too.

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"The surface of Ceres has revealed many interesting and unique features. For example, icy moons in the outer solar system have craters with central pits but on Ceres central pits in large craters are much more common," said Carol Raymond, Deputy Principal Examiner for the Dawn mission, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Dawn is the first mission to visit a dwarf planet and the first to orbit two distinct targets in our solar system. It arrived at Ceres on March 6, 2015 and will remain in its current altitude until June 30.



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