Home > Asteroid, NASA > 03/03/2015 – Ephemeris – The bright spots on Ceres are still a mystery

03/03/2015 – Ephemeris – The bright spots on Ceres are still a mystery

March 3, 2015

Ephemeris for Tuesday, March 3rd.  The Sun will rise at 7:17.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 6:32.   The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 6:30 tomorrow morning.

The Dawn spacecraft is approaching the asteroid Ceres.  It will be gently captured by Ceres on the 6th.  This as an update from the date I gave you yesterday.  Then the spacecraft will spiral closer and closer to the asteroid over the next few months.  There is a mystery spot on Ceres, a bright spot that was visible by the Hubble Space Telescope orbiting Earth.  As Dawn got close enough to resolve Ceres it too saw the bright spot.  As the spacecraft got even closer the spot showed to be smaller and smaller.  I thought it might be a crater that penetrated into Ceres icy interior.  But the latest image, taken February 19th shows that the bright spot has a companion spot, both inside a crater and still too small to resolve.  It’s still a mystery.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Ceres from Hubble

Hubble’s best photo of Ceres. Note the white spot near the top of the image. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Parker (Southwest Research Institute), P. Thomas (Cornell University), L. McFadden (University of Maryland, College Park), and M. Mutchler and Z. Levay (STScI)

White spot from Dawn

The white spot shows as Dawn approaches Ceres. Credit: NASA/JPL.

Ceres 2/19/15

The bright spot is two. Picture taken February 19, 2015 from 29,000 miles (46,700 km). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

This photo will be the best photo of the bright spots until the end of April, an Dawn maneuvers over the night side of Ceres.

On March 2nd NASA held a Dawn Mission Pre- Close Approach News Briefing which can be found on YouTube.

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