More close-up images of Ceres

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Dome and fractures in Occator Crater

Strange image time! The Dawn science team today released a set of new images taken by the spacecraft in its new very close orbit of Ceres. The image on the right is a cropped section of one of those images, and shows some fractures and a dome in Occator Crater. The image was taken from 28 miles altitude, and if you click on it you can see the entire photograph.

What immediately stands out in this image is the strange bright flow on top of the dome. At first glance it looks like someone put a seashell there. In reality I think it is showing us a landslide of bright material flowing downward, towards the top of the image. The flow was significant enough that it piled up as it went down, which is why it created a cliff edge and shadow line at its base.

Everything we see here is influenced by Ceres’s tiny gravity. It is not unusual to see fractures in the floor of a crater, the nature of these fractures and domes is different, and will require a lot of work by scientists to interpret, because of the different environment.


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