In 2003 the Hubble Space Telescope spotted some bright spots on Ceres. Ever since they have had everyone stumped… What are they? Aliens of course!
Well, no one really knows, perhaps it is aliens. Most likely it is something a lot more boring. The leading theories are that the bright spots are actually ice or salt pans.
In 2011 and 2012 Dawn orbited the protoplanet Vesta and even found evidence of liquid water erosion. Now, as of March 6, Dawn is orbiting Ceres. Dawn is currently at an altitude of 13,600 kilometers (8,400 miles). The recent photos from its current orbit still have NASA scientists stumped over what the bright spots are. The bright spots are not the only interesting feature, there is also a pyramid shaped mountain (Aliens!).
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
Dawn is currently making its way down to a lower orbit of 4,400 kilometers (2,700 miles). When it gets there we may finally discover what the bright spots are. If not, then by December this year Dawn should be at an altitude of 360 kilometers (225 miles) which will give Dawn a much clearer view of these fascinating features.
Maybe the bright spots will turn out to be shining alien cities or maybe just some ice or salt pans. Either way it will be exciting to finally find out what they are.
Image credit: NASA