DEC 13, 2017 9:25 AM PST

NASA's Dawn Spacecraft Sheds Light on Ceres' "Bright Spots"

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard


If you were to glance at the dwarf planet Ceres, you'd see speckles of bright spots throughout its surface. Many of these reside inside of several of the spatial body's surface craters, and NASA's Dawn spacecraft is helping planetary scientists learn more about them.

The most substantial bright spot on Ceres' surface resides at the center of a crater and forms a small "dome"-shaped structure. NASA named this bright spot Cerealia Facula, but accumulatively refers to a host of other surrounding smaller bright spots as Vinalia Faculae.

From what we've gathered so far, it appears that an unknown internal process inside of Ceres produces enough energy to force subsurface liquid brines to the dwarf planet's surface. Once there, it freezes and forms an icy structure with approximately the same albedo as dirty snow here on Earth.

We have a lot to learn about these so-called bright spots, but further analyses by way of Dawn and future missions could shed some light into the mechanisms behind their formation.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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