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The brightest spot on Ceres has a partner

Ceres' double bright spots

Cool images! Dawn’s newest images have revealed that the brightest spot on Ceres, shown on the right in a cropped version of the full image, has a dimmer companion.

“Ceres’ bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin. This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations,” said Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The spots are still too small for Dawn’s camera to resolve. That they are inside what looks like a crater is very puzzling. If they are water-ice, why are they so bright and distinct? One one think the ice would pile up along the crater wall, but then, that’s what we think based on our experience here on Earth with wind, rain, and our heavy gravity. Ceres is cold, has no atmosphere, and a tiny gravitational field. Every geological process will proceed in a different manner.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Wouldn’t it be wild if it turned out that the “bright spots” are holes, and that underneath all that dust and rock that the “planetoid” Ceres is actually a gigantic sphere of precisely-machined metal?

    “That’s no moon…”

  • mpthompson

    Is to early to hope for an obelisk with the dimensions of 1:4:9?

  • PeterF

    Thats where the ship crashed after it lost the antimatter pod that currently floats on top of the mantle under Hawaii

  • Edward

    Excellent reference. Let’s be careful where that crater points, before they “commence primary ignition.”

    I was thinking of the book, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” in which they travel not to Jupiter but to Saturn, because there was an “eye” on Titan, a crater that had a spot in it, apparently to attract attention.

  • D.K. Williams

    Ice volcanoes?

  • pzatchok

    Some kids playing with a laser pointer.

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