Possible Ice Spots Seen On Ceres

Some fresh images of Ceres, the dwarf planet, suggest that bright spots may reveal ice.

The NASA Dawn mission has shown the brights spots in many different small regions. They appear to be very bright as a result of “reflection of sunlight” but the composition is still unknown, according to the missions¬† lead investigator Christopher Russell.

Ceres is the biggest object within the asteroid belt, which sits between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. The planet is relatively small at just 950 kms in diameter and amounts to one third of the mass in the asteroid belt. It is thought to be the only dwarf planet within the inner solar system and as the video shows, has been well rounded by its gravity.

This was the first asteroid to be discovered by Giuseppe Piazzi in Palermo in 1801. Ceres is too dim to be seen by the naked eye from Earth, except from under very dark skies, so it was handy of the Dawn mission to help a little.