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On Monday the Dawn science team released more close-up images of Ceres, taken from Dawn’s final close orbit of the dwarf planet, with the focus of this release Occator Crater and its bright spots.
The current images now show numerous sections of Occator Crater from an altitude of 35 kilometers and with a resolution less than 5 meters per pixel. “The data exceeds all our expectations,” Dr. Andreas Nathues from the MPS, Framing Camera Lead Investigator, says. In the new images, the surface is now ten times better resolved than in the best images from the previous three years.
Impressive avalanches reveal themselves in the new views of the eastern wall of Occator Crater: there are clear signs that material has been recently moving down the slopes; some of it remains stuck halfway. Other images allow a close look at the interplay of bright and dark material in the eastern part of the crater. “We now hope to understand how the bright deposits outside the crater center came about – and what they tell us about Ceres’ interior,” says Nathues. Various analyses of the past years suggest that Ceres has a water-rich crust. Small impacts and landslides regularly expose ice at the surface, which produces a thin exosphere of water vapor.
I have posted some of these images previously, but there are several new ones at the link.