Did You See This?

Bright Lights, Big Crater

Everything NASA has found inside Ceres’ most famous crater.

It’s almost two years since NASA’s Dawn spacecraft arrived at dwarf planet Ceres. It’s been sending back lots of spectacular pictures, including closeups of Occator Crater, the site of mysterious bright spots that now appear to be salt deposits. This video is the work the German Aerospace Center, which has taken Dawn’s still images and produced an animated flyover of the crater, with false color segments to visualize the data Dawn has sent back to earth. The music is by Stefan Elgner.

Dawn continues orbiting Ceres, and on Dec. 15, 2016, NASA released a detailed report on locations for which Dawn has found evidence of subsurface ice. Spoiler: most everywhere. This is just what Dawn’s been looking for, evidence of water at Vesta and on Ceres. According to Thomas Prettyman, principal investigator of Dawn’s gamma ray and neutron detector, ”These results confirm predictions made nearly three decades ago that ice can survive for billions of years just beneath the surface of Ceres. The evidence strengthens the case for the presence of near-surface water ice on other main belt asteroids.”