The strange shimmering white spot found on the dwarf planet Ceres by the NASA spacecraft puzzled scientists.
A white spot on Ceres was recorded in a series of new photographs taken on January 13 by NASA’s Rassvet spacecraft, which is rapidly approaching a dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. But when the photographs were presented on Monday, January 19, the scientists of “Dawn” gave no explanation as to what this point might be.
"Yes, we can confirm that this is something that is on the surface of Ceres, reflecting a lot of sunlight, but that it really is a mystery to us," said Mark Reiman, director of the expedition and chief engineer of the Rassvet project in e-mail sent to Space.com.
New images show bright and dark areas on the visible surface of Ceres, which indicate the presence of craters. But at the moment it is impossible to define other specific features, including the mysterious white spot.
“We don’t know what a white spot is, but it’s certainly very intriguing,” said Reiman. "We really, in order to understand the nature of the white spot, we must send a spacecraft to it and find out everything on the spot, which we actually do. Since Dawn is very intently focused on Ceres, we will soon see all the detailed details of the white spot and then it will be possible to draw conclusions about what it is. " The Rassvet spacecraft worth $ 466 million should approach the planet’s orbit on March 6, 2014. It left Earth in 32007, and in the summer of 2011 he made a one-year stop on the asteroid West, the second largest asteroid in the asteroid belt.
Ceres is a unique object in our solar system. It is the largest object in the asteroid belt, classified as an asteroid. But at the same time Ceres is considered a dwarf planet: 590 miles across, or 950 km (approximately the size of Texas). Ceres is considered a miniature dwarf planet of the solar system.
Vesta has many common properties in the inner planets of our solar system, but scientists suspect that Ceres will have even more similarities with the terrestrial planets. Scientists believe that 25% of the mass of Ceres consists of water, which means that it contains even more fresh water than the Earth. Scientists observed feathers of water vapor breaking out near its surface, quite possible as a result of the activity of volcanoes and ice geysers.
Ceres is a dwarf planet, which it also calls an embryonic planet, since it could become a full-fledged planet, but this was prevented by the gravitational perturbation of Jupiter. The more scientists learn about this brave dwarf, the more they like it.