NASA’s Dawn Mission has been exploring the largest rock in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter since March 6, 2015 when a historic landing was made on the dwarf planet. Now, the probe has released new colorful maps of the dwarf planet. The maps beautifully show the height differences between crater bottoms and mountain peaks.
The mission is unique because it’s the first to orbit two different extraterrestrial targets. From 2011 to 2012, the probe has conducted observations of Vesta.
Some craters and features have been officially named. The names have been inspired by gods relating to agriculture from a variety of cultures. Dawn science team member Paul Schenk, a geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, was of the view, “The craters we find on Ceres, in terms of their depth and diameter, are very similar to what we see on Dione and Tethys, two icy satellites of Saturn that are about the same size and density as Ceres”.
A crater having Ceres’ brightest spots and having a diameter of around 60 miles and depth of around 2 miles has been named Occator. It is the name of Roman agriculture deity of harrowing. A small crater with bright material has been identified as Haulani. It has been named after the Hawaiian plant goddess.
Dantu crater has been named after the ‘Ghanaian God’ of planting of corn. A crater named Ezinu has been named after the Sumerian goddess of grain. Currently, Dawn is spiraling towards its third science orbit, with which it will get three times closer to Ceres than its previous orbit.