New close-up of Occator Crater’s spots

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

Occator Crater central spot

The Dawn science team have released new images taken from the spacecraft’s low orbit observations, including a close-up of the central white spot at Occator Crater, the brightest spot on Ceres.

The image on the right is a cropped though full resolution version of the full image. I have reduced it only slightly. As they note,

Occator Crater, measuring 57 miles (92 kilometers) across and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, contains the brightest area on Ceres, the dwarf planet that Dawn has explored since early 2015. The latest images, taken from 240 miles (385 kilometers) above the surface of Ceres, reveal a dome in a smooth-walled pit in the bright center of the crater. Numerous linear features and fractures crisscross the top and flanks of this dome. Prominent fractures also surround the dome and run through smaller, bright regions found within the crater.

One comment

  • Gealon

    It does indeed look like an upwelling of powdery or perhaps granular material, carried upwards by escaping gas. Last I read on the subject was that it was theorized to be a salt deposit. I’d have to go dig up an article on Dawn’s science suite but I find it hard to believe the question could remain unanswered for long, the spacecraft should be carrying a spectrometer or some other means of remote, chemical analysis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *