Closing in on Ceres’s bright spots

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Ceres's bright spots

Cool image time! The Dawn science team has released a new close-up of Ceres’s Double Bright Spot.

The new up-close view of Occator crater from Dawn’s current vantage point reveals better-defined shapes of the brightest, central spot and features on the crater floor. Because these spots are so much brighter than the rest of Ceres’ surface, the Dawn team combined two different images into a single composite view — one properly exposed for the bright spots, and one for the surrounding surface.

They have also released a detailed topographic map of the crater as well as a fly-around video, which I have posted below the fold. The interesting take-away from this new data is that, while the bright spots look at first glance remarkably like the snow-cap on a mountain-top, they are actually at the low spots in the crater. This suggests that they are instead material that has either bubbled up from below, or flowed downward to the crater bottom.

Be sure you click on the link and look at the full resolution image.

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