NASA has sent a series of spacecraft to orbit different planets and cosmic bodies and collect images of their surface and atmosphere. Dawn is responsible with monitoring the dwarf planet Ceres, and revealed some interesting discoveries about it. The spacecraft identified around 300 bright spots in its surface, which appeared significantly brighter than the rest. To settle the debates which could have arisen after the discovery, NASA decided to record a video with an explanation for the phenomenon.
Ceres has plenty of bright spots on its surface
Dawn keeps orbiting Ceres since March 2015, and observed how the spots came into being and evolved. Contrary to many expectations, they point out to how active Ceres actually is. The bright areas indicate the dwarf planet has a subsurface ocean, proving it’s definitely not a dead world. This ocean keeps plenty of geological processes active, which might continue shaping the surface of the dwarf planet.
Researchers have counted 300 shiny formations on the surface of Ceres, and they can all be gathered in three groups. The first one is made up of an extremely reflective material. This is located mainly on crater floors, with the Occator hiding the brightest formations. The material is rich in salts, which give it its reflective properties.
The bright formations contain salt and several other substances
The second group is a little higher from the crater bottom, and is placed on the rims. They came into being as the deeper material burst from the bottom. During the formation of the craters, some more material was expulsed as well, forming the bright areas from the third category.
The base substance in the spots is salt, which interacted with different other materials and, then, the brightness resulted. One of the main factors which created them was the intense fluid activity in the subsurface, as well as gas and vapor.
Image Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory