NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is en route to Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt of our Solar System, and it’s spotted two strange, shiny patches on its crater-pocked surface.
Set to land on the Ceres dwarf planet on 6 March – which just might see it reclassified as a full-on planet, along with Pluto – the Dawn spacecraft captured images of the bright spots at about 46,000 kilometres (29,000 miles) away. The brightest of the pair appears to be reflecting at least 40 percent of the light that falls on it.
“Ceres’ bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin. This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations,” Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, said in a press release. “We knew from Hubble observations that there was variation in the colouration and reflectivity of the surface. But when we got to Ceres we saw bright spots, and they are really, really bright.” Via Strange reflections spotted on dwarf planet Ceres