NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has collected some new images of the dwarf planet Ceres. The images reveal the structural features of the planet which highlight the presence of craters on the surface. The present series of pictures is three times better than the images that were taken in December. As Dawn closed in towards the mysterious planet, it was able to acquire images of 27 pixel values, which helped scientists learn new information about the surface of the dwarf planet.
Dawn is set to approach Ceres for a closer rendezvous as soon as in March this year. During the approach, the spacecraft transmitted the new series of pictures of Ceres. The black and white images, taken on January 13, were acquired from a distance of 238,000 miles from the planet. The NASA released the images on Monday, and although they still reveal a fuzzy view, their resolution is 80% better than those taken almost a decade ago. The earlier images were taken in 2003-2004 by the Hubble Space Telescope.
There is a feature noted in the recent images that had lured the attraction of the scientists last time also. The images show the presence of a white spot on the surface of the planet. Scientists cannot yet confirm what the spot is but hypothesize that it could be a frozen pool of water. They believe that it is ice at the bottom of a crater and is clear enough to reflect sunlight. Evidence to support the hypothesis is the presence of water vapor that was discovered emanating from Ceres.
The presence of water on Ceres has revoked scientists into believing that the planet supports some form of life. Ceres happens to be smallest known dwarf planet but is the largest object in the chief asteroid belt. Scientists are now expecting to find out more details in March.