It looks like the Moon!

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craters on Ceres

Cool image time! Dawn has now swooped down to 3,200 miles, and provided a very nice image of the cratered surface of Ceres. Though it does appear to resemble the Moon, there are some differences that come to mind if you take a close look at the full resolution image. The surface appears smoother. All of the craters appear worn or eroded or less rugged. Also, there are no mountains. The terrain resembles the Moon’s lowlands or maria, but more so.

Note that the region in this picture is tantalizingly close to the double bright spot, but does not include it. Because Dawn is still easing its way into its first survey orbit of 2,700 miles elevation, it only takes pictures when it stops firing its ion engine, which it is doing almost all the time to get where it wants to be. Thus, they apparently only had time for this image.

The spacecraft enters its mapping orbit on June 3. Expect some cool images, including the first good images of the double bright spots, shortly thereafter.

One comment

  • fred k

    Note the “grooves”. Looks a bit like the “grooves” on phobos.

    I’ve hypothosize the grooves are trails left in the regolith from boulders rolling away from low speed impacts. Since gravity is so low, they’d just bounce and roll around the surface moving in a straight line around the curve of the body until all their energy was exhausted.

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