Do you think that lately all the news is about the dwarf planet Pluto? But this little world is not the only place in the solar system where interesting things happen.
Closer to the Sun, hidden deep inside the Asteroid Belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, there is another dwarf planet: Ceres, where NASA Dawn has just discovered something interesting.
When the Dawn mission came closer to the dwarf planet, she discovered one strange phenomenon: mysterious bright spots. These spots were located in the center of numerous craters, among which stood out the crater “Occator”. Since their discoveries, these strange features have puzzled scientists, and although there are various theories of their origin, their true nature remains unknown.
But today, according to Alexandra Vitze, the scientists of the Dawn mission have announced a discovery that can explain these bright spots: it seems that they form a fog.
"At noon, when you look at a sharp angle, you can see something like fog," said Christopher Russell, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the principal investigator of the mission, Dawn. According to Russell, who spoke at a NASA meeting at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, fog covers about half of the crater and reaches a maximum of its edge.
So far, scientists have suggested that bright spots are a concentration of minerals or salts. Or they may be ice deposits, which is potential evidence of cryovolcanism.
The spacecraft has not yet been able to properly analyze these spots, but the discovery of fog over the crater, in which bright spots are located, indicates a possible sublimation of water ice.
In 2014, the now not working infrared space telescope Herschel found evidence of water vapor on Ceres. However, this discovery was not confirmed with the arrival of Dawn. But the discovery of fog over the crater “Occator” may explain the nature of the mysterious bright spots and the potential source of elusive water vapor.