Ponder Ceres, largest resident of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Discovered in 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi, early astronomers considered it a planet. With a diameter of 598 miles, planet is a stretch. Officially, this 33rd largest object in our solar system is a dwarf planet. Large enough to be rounded by its own gravity, yet much too small for planetary respect.
Fortunately, size doesn’t matter to science. In 2007 NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory launched the Dawn probe. Dawn’s mission – study “protoplanets” Vesta and Ceres in the asteroid belt to advance understanding of how solar systems form. In July of 2011 Dawn began a 14 month orbit of Vesta (Ceres rocky little sister with a diameter of 325 miles), March of this year found Dawn entering orbit around Ceres. On June 8, 2015 NASA released this video compilation, flying around Ceres – Taken from Dawn’s first orbital mapping and navigational images.
Remarkable as it is, the video hasn’t solved one of Ceres greatest mysteries, a curious surface anomaly dubbed the double bright spot. Over the next few months NASA is asking our opinion – vote volcano, geyser, rock, ice, salt deposit or other at the link below.
Image – NASA