Bizarre craters have been found on the dwarf planet located between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres. NASA’s Dawn space probe observed new images of shiny features on Ceres, according to a report published on Tuesday.
NASA launched Dawn in 2007 to study protoplanets -which are about the size of our moon- in the asteroid belt. The 590-mile-wide (950 km) Ceres is the largest celestial body in the asteroid belt and one of three targets involved in the Dawn mission. The spacecraft has been orbiting the dwarf planet since March 2015.
The images were captured by Dawn 240 miles from the celestial body. That’s the closest the spacecraft has come to Ceres. Scientists have now more clues about Cere’s geographical features, including the Haulani Crater, which shows evidence of landslides around its rims.
“Haulani perfectly displays the properties we would expect from a fresh impact into the surface of Ceres. The crater floor is largely free of impacts, and it contrasts sharply in color from older parts of the surface,” said Martin Hoffmann, a researcher on the Dawn mission.
Intriguing, shining material
Rays of bluish material are shown in the images as it is ejected from the dwarf planet’s surface. The coloring hue has been linked to craters younger than scientists thought, but this blue hue can be only seen by instruments Dawn uses to spy wavelengths of light beyond what humans can possibly detect.
However, NASA said experts are working to find out what the material is comprised of, as reported by CNN. Scientists are so intrigued by the new images because craters usually are circular on Earth and other celestial bodies, compared with Ceres’ features which have the shape of straight lines. Researchers believe that faults and preexisting stress patterns might lie underneath those craters, shaping their lines.
Another bright feature on Ceres has been named Oxo, a 6-mile wide crater that may be poised to help understand the upper crust of the dwarf planet, according to lead researcher Chris Russell.
Investigators want to study this crater mainly because of the minerals found on its floor, as they’re very different from elsewhere in the universe. In fact, Oxo triggers more questions about the origins of the minerals.