In March, the NASA Dawn Spacecraft entered the orbit of the mysterious dwarf planet Ceres, with the craft scheduled to begin sending images to Earth later this month.
For several weeks, surprising and unexplained bright spots within a crater on the planet’s surface have generated enormous buzz in popular media.
Despite now orbiting at a near altitude of just 2,700 miles, those big spots remain a mystery. But Dawn is also beginning to pick out other bright spots and an odd pyramid-shaped peak that NASA estimates to be three miles tall, CNN reports.
But not only other bright spots and the pyramid have been spotted by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. Dawn also spotted another weird feature, an ancient Dome, about 10 times the size of Empire State.
A new video animation of dwarf planet Ceres, based on images taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, provides dramatic flyover views of this heavily cratered, mysterious world.
The images come from Dawn’s first mapping orbit at Ceres, at an altitude of 8,400 mile (13,600 kilometers), as well as navigational images taken from 3,200 miles (5,100 kilometers) away.
The images provided information for a three-dimensional terrain model. The vertical dimension has been exaggerated by a factor of two, and a star field has been added in the background.