This dramatic new view from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was taken October 16, 2016 from Dawn’s fifth science orbit, about 920 miles (1,480 km) above Ceres. Since arriving at Ceres in March 2015, Dawn has shifted between various orbits to give us amazing views of this little world. It reached this new orbit in early October. In this image, the angle of the sun was different from that in previous orbits.
This image shows the famous bright spots in Occator Crater on Ceres. There’s a central bright region and secondary, less-reflective areas, prominent near the limb, or edge, of Ceres in this image. NASA said:
At 57 miles (92 km) wide and 2.5 miles (4 km) deep, Occator displays evidence of recent geologic activity. The latest research suggests that the bright material in this crater is comprised of salts left behind after a briny liquid emerged from below, froze and then sublimated, meaning it turned from ice into vapor.
The impact that formed the crater millions of years ago unearthed material that blanketed the area outside the crater, and may have triggered the upwelling of salty liquid.
Bottom line: New image of dwarf planet Ceres, taken by Dawn spacecraft on October 16, 2016, shows a different angle on the famous Ceres bright spots.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.