New photographs have provided important new clues to help solve the riddle of the mystery bright spots.
As NASA’s Dawn spacecraft approached the enigmatic dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, one of the first things that caught people’s attention was a mysterious bright spot inside a crater on its surface.
Now at last NASA has been able to determine that these peculiar features are actually the result of sunlight reflecting off of something highly reflective on the planet’s surface.
New images taken of Ceres have revealed that the two most prominent bright spots are actually made up of several smaller ones and that the whole surface appears to be littered with them.
“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,” said Christopher Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission.
While there is still a lot of work to do to confirm that the reflective material is indeed ice, NASA scientists are hoping that Dawn will provide the information they need over the coming months.