The Changing Bright Spots of Ceres: New Evidence for Geological Activity?

Artist’s conception based on a detailed map of the surface compiled from images taken from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres. New observations show that the bright spots change in brightness from day to night, suggesting that they change under the influence of sunlight as Ceres rotates, and may also indicate subsurface geological activity. Image Credit: ESO/L.Calçada/NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/Steve Albers/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org)

Artist’s illustration of the brights spots Occator crater and elsewhere, based on a detailed map of the surface compiled from images taken from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres. New observations show that the bright spots change in brightness from day to night, suggesting that they change under the influence of […]

Dawn Celebrates One Year at Ceres with Incredible New Images of 'Lonely Mountain'

View of Ahuna Mons from the low-altitude mapping orbit (LAMO). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI

View of Ahuna Mons from the low-altitude mapping orbit (LAMO). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI

It has been a year now since the Dawn spacecraft first reached the dwarf planet Ceres in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and during that time has shown Ceres to be a unique and complex little world. At […]

Dawn Spacecraft Begins Extensive Study of Dwarf Planet Ceres from Lowest Orbit

Artist's conception of Dawn orbiting Ceres. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist’s conception of Dawn orbiting Ceres. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Dawn spacecraft just recently entered its lowest and final orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres, providing the closest look ever at the puzzling world. Dawn will, of course, be taking thousands more high-resolution photographs, but what else will it be doing during the remainder […]

2015 in Review: A Year of Spectacular Planetary Missions and Discoveries

High-resolution view of Pluto from New Horizons, showing rugged mountains and vast icy plains. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

High-resolution view of Pluto from New Horizons, showing rugged mountains and vast icy plains. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

To say that 2015 has been a great year for planetary exploration would be an understatement, with fantastic new discoveries from around the Solar System. From our first ever close-up look at Pluto and its moons, to […]

First High-Resolution Images Released of Ceres from Dawn's New Lowest Orbit

One of the first new images taken in Dawn's lowest orbit around Ceres, showing the crater chain called Gerber Catena. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

One of the first new images taken in Dawn’s lowest orbit around Ceres, showing the crater chain called Gerber Catena. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA has released the first images of the dwarf planet Ceres from the Dawn spacecraft’s new lowest orbit. This is the closest view that Dawn will have of Ceres and its intriguing […]

Mystery Solved? Odd Bright Spots on Ceres Explained as Salt Deposits

False color view of Occator crater on Ceres, showing the unusual brights spots. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

False color view of Occator crater on Ceres, showing the unusual bright spots. The image was taken by the framing camera on NASA’s Dawn spacecraft from a distance of about 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

There now might be a definitive answer to a puzzle which has intrigued both scientists and the […]

NASA's Dawn Spirals to Final Science Orbit, Poised to Return Up-Close Images

From NASA/JPL: "This view, made using images taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, is a color-coded topographic map of Occator crater on Ceres.  Blue is the lowest elevation, and brown is the highest. The crater, which is home to the brightest spots on Ceres, is approximately 56 miles (90 kilometers wide)." Occator is home to Ceres' "bright spots." Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

From NASA/JPL: “This view, made using images taken by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, is a color-coded topographic map of Occator crater on Ceres. Blue is the lowest elevation, and brown is the highest. The crater, which is home to the brightest spots on Ceres, is approximately 56 miles (90 kilometers wide).” Occator is home to […]

New NASA Planetary Science Proposals Include Venus and 'Metallic Asteroid' Missions

Artist's conception of the VERITAS spacecraft in orbit around Venus. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist’s conception of the VERITAS spacecraft in orbit around Venus. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Looking ahead to future planetary missions, NASA has selected five new science investigations for refinement over the next year. Later, one or two of those missions will be chosen to actually be launched, perhaps as early as 2020. The selections are […]

A Deeper Understanding: Dawn Reaches Third Science Orbit, Shows Closest View of Ceres Yet

From NASA/JPL: "The Lonely Mountain The Lonely Mountain  NASA's Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers). The mountain, located in the southern hemisphere, stands 4 miles (6 kilometers) high. Its perimeter is sharply defined, with almost no accumulated debris at the base of the brightly streaked slope." This image was taken August 19. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

From NASA/JPL: “The Lonely Mountain: NASA’s Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers). The mountain, located in the southern hemisphere, stands 4 miles (6 kilometers) high. Its perimeter is sharply defined, with almost no accumulated debris at the base of the brightly streaked slope.” […]

Dawn En Route to Third Science Orbit, New Maps Reveal Astonishing Peaks and Depths

Dawn is using its ion propulsion system to lower its orbit to within 1,000 miles of the dwarf planet Ceres. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“Each time dawn appears, the mystery is there in its entirety.” — Rene Daumal

While astronaut Scott Kelly’s “Year in Space” mission helps researchers understand the effects of long-duration […]