NASA is calling on members of the public to vote on what they think the mysterious bright spot is on the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt, which lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft started orbiting Ceres on March 6th, 2015. Even before the probe arrived at the dwarf planet, images showed a mysterious bright spot and a dimmer one next to it, which captivated scientists and lay people alike.
Until Dawn gets super close over the next few months, nobody knows what those spots could be – all we can do is guess.
What do you think this bright spot and its smaller companion are?
NASA gives people the choice of selecting one of the following (for what they believe the bright spot might be): Volcano, Geyser, Rock, Ice, Salt Deposit or ‘Other’.
What could ‘Other’ mean?
Cast your vote
If you want to cast your vote, go to the NASA webpage ‘What’s the spot on World Ceres?’
Regarding the bright spots, Principal Investigator for the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles, Chris Russell, said in February:
“Ceres’ bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin.”
“This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations.”
Andreas Nathues, who leads the framing camera team at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Gottingen, Germany, said:
“The brightest spot continues to be too small to resolve with our camera, but despite its size it is brighter than anything else on Ceres. This is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us.”