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Scientists puzzled by bright spots on mile-tall mountain in Ceres

Scientists are investigating the bright spots on a pyramid or cone-shaped mountain about 4-miles (6 kilometers) high, with reference to the surface area around it. Dawn science team member Paul Schenk, a geologist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, said that the mountain is among the tallest features they have identified until now.bright-spot-pyramid-dwarf-planet-ceres

Scientists are curious about the location of the mountain as it is not linked to a crater, and they are set to be determined after closer observation. The odd mountain has the same elevation as Mount McKinley in Denali National park, the highest point in North America. Another amazing feature is the Occator (oh-Kah-tor) crater, which has the brightest spots in the dwarf planet. The crater is named after a Roman agricultural deity of harrowing.

“The science team is continuing to evaluate the data and discuss theories about these bright spots at Occator,” said Chriss Russell, Dawn’s principal investigator at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The team is now comparing the spots with the reflective properties of salt, though they are puzzled by its source. When the bright light reflection was investigated with different wavelengths, it was found that it was consistent with ice. The albedo (a measure of the amount of light reflected) of the bright spots is lower than the predictions for concentration of ice at the surface.

Dawn science team member David O’Brien with the Planetary Science Institute, Tuscon, Arizona stated that they were interested in studying many other features, which include a pair of large impact basins called Urvara and Yalode in the southern hemisphere. The dwarf planet Ceres is the largest object between Mars and Jupiter. Ever since Dawn entered the orbit of Ceres, it has acquired a trove of data, leading to the revision of Ceres’ diameter, from 590 miles (950 kilometers)  to 584 miles (940 kilometers). The spacecraft will again begin its operation by mid-August as it moves three-times closer to its previous orbit.

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About Anirudh Madhav

A movie buff, a bookworm, and a compulsive doodler. All posts by Anirudh

One comment

  1. If the particular mountainside is steep that could explain it. The combination of steep elevations and winds, contribute to liquification of gases. Sometimes when a high cliff or a mountain rises sharply there are clouds formed at the top, at heights which are lower than the level of ordinary cloud formation in the area. So what is observed here might be the result of state change or even chemical change depending on what else is there to react with

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