(Photo : NASA)
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has been observing the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt recently. The spacecraft discovered a number of unique features, including a glowing pyramid, similar to the one in Egypt.
NASA started the Dawn mission in September 2007, which aims to observe two of three protoplanets in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, namely Ceres and Vesta. Dawn has been orbiting around Ceres since it arrived in March 2015. In July 2011, the space probe was orbiting around Vesta. It surveyed the planet for 14 months before moving on to Ceres.
NatMonitor reported that NASA posted its latest video of the small planet Ceres, which showed surprising formations just beyond the bright white spots. The pyramid is a conical high mountain, with a peak higher than Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in the United States weight a height of 20,000 feet. It has a giant crater as well.
Marc Rayman, Dawn mission director, presented the bright spots in the middle and around one edge of the said crater. The new 3D images of Ceres were the most detailed ever. However, there were no new insights shared on the possible causes or identity of the bright spots, CNet reported.
“What does this structure tell us about how this world works?” Rayman asked.
There were also noticeable bright streaks that seem to move down along the pyramid’s sides. The Dawn mission has been closely monitoring the bright spots on Ceres. These are situated within a crater measuring about 60 miles wide and two miles deep. However, scientists are still wondering what these are, how these could have formed or what causes the brightness.
The pyramid-like mountain is the latest discovery, which has a height of about four miles. One side of the pyramid is unusually dark while the other side is glowing with streaks, almost in the same manner as the mysterious bright spots. The glowing might be triggered by the same factors.
Mirror wrote that other natural phenomena that were discovered on Ceres include rock flows and landslides. In July 2015, a “space crab” image was taken by NASA. Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the Center for SETI Research, said that a phenomenon called pareidolia may explain the space crab appearance on the rocks. Pareidolia is the brain’s ability to find shapes in random objects, in the same manner that people might find animal shapes when looking at clouds.
Dawn will continue to descend and observe the formations closer until its closest approach toward the end of 2015.