Ceres to Dawn: Are those Lights Serving as Beacons, Warning Signs, or Just Some Reflective Ice or Salt

The world is like an expectant mother waiting to give birth. The agony of waiting and discover what’s in store for mankind in the asteroid Ceres has been the center of focus these past few weeks. The bright lights have even become more mysterious with the appearance of another one just beside the usual one.

Is it a beacon to help guide Dawn on its last few days approaching the dwarf planet or is it a warning that the spacecraft should go back because it is intruding on an alien territory with life forms in it. Maybe they don’t want us in their planet. I may just be having a fertile imagination or I might be right.

Or the lights are what the scientists said they are: a frozen water or salts.

Few more days, just about ten days from now and NASA’s Dawn will enter the dwarf’s planet orbit. The excitement of man’s first landing on the moon was really unprecedented. Will the Ceres event create the same kind of sensation? With extensive media coverage, I think it will be more exciting.

The asteroid is one of those found in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars and happens to be the biggest.

The eight year travel will come to an end which started in 2007, making a detour to Vesta, the second largest first for some comparative study.

Once it arrives, its long eight year journey will be complete although there will still be much work for the spacecraft to do.  Dawn first let Earth in 2007, first traveling to Vesta, the asteroid belt’s second largest body.

Dawn mission lead analyst Professor Chris Russell of the University of California, Los Angeles, revealed that Dawn’s arrival will be smooth and gentle as it will eases into Ceres’ orbit, without using rocket boosters to decelerate.  He said “Unlike other missions where everyone’s gathered in the control room timing down to the critical engine burn and then the whole room erupts in cheers when the engines light up on time, most of us will be at home sleeping as Dawn slips into orbit as the gravity of Ceres begins to dominate the spacecraft’s trajectory over that of the Sun.”


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