Even with the high quality images of the unusual bright lights on the dwarf planet Ceres, NASA is still unable to identify precisely what they are. They look like magma from inside a volcanic crater.
Sci-news said that the latest images were shot on May 16 from a distance of 4, 500 miles or 7,200 kilometer using a resolution of of 700 m per pixel . The distance will be maintained at 2,700 miles or 4,400 kilometers from the dwarf planet until June 30 and then the probe will be moved to lower orbits .
Researchers believe that a substance situated on the lower part of a large crater which reflects back sunshine appear to glow when seen at a distance. Yet it is still unclear what exactly the material is made of and why it is only found in a particular surface crater of planet Ceres.
“Dawn scientists can now conclude that the intense brightness of these spots is due to the reflection of sunlight by highly reflective material on the surface, possibly ice,” stated Christopher Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission from the University of California, Los Angeles.
An ion propulsion system is used by Dawn for its second mapping orbit at Ceres and is assumed to reach it on June 6. The spacecraft is able to enter and leave orbit of different celestial bodies with the presence of thd ion propulsion system
Science Times said that the Voyager program before have used conventional crafts that only enabled them to pass by and observe at a far distance. Since the 2007 launching of awn, NASA was able to visit the giant protoplanet Vesta, entered its orbit and got out from it again. .
It is situated 104 million miles or 168 million km away from Ceres . The space probe is now going to venture for a wider orbit , yet the next orbits will then see the spacecraft drawing nearer to the dwarf planet’s surface in the hope of finding a conclusive answer to the strange lights on the planet.