NASA Scientists Don’t Know What These Two Lights On The Dwarf Planet Ceres Are

Space nerds have been excited by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft mission which is quickly approaching the dwarf planet Ceres. Ceres is a mini planet in the same classification that Pluto now has and is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. From 29 thousand miles away the approaching space probe took this picture which as you can see clearly features two bright spots illuminating from the surface.

While some people are excited by the implications of approaching an object in space with unexplained bright “lights” that scientists can’t explain, there are a few theories as to what the spots might be that don’t involve….

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The bright spots are in the same crater basin on the planet and according to Chris Russell who is working on the Dawn mission, he theorizes that it might be a volcano. NASA also said in a statement:

“Ceres has more in common with Earth and Mars than its rocky neighbors. There are signs that Ceres contains large amounts of water ice beneath its surface. Scientists using the Herschel Space Observatory found evidence for water vapor on Ceres. The vapor may be produced by cryovolcanoes or by ice near the surface sublimating (transforming from solid to gas). This proves that Ceres has a icy surface and an atmosphere as well. Astronomers estimate that if Ceres were composed of 25 percent water, it may have more water than all the fresh water on Earth.”

A cryovolcanoe erupts water or methane instead of lava- so that’s kind of cool. Also the thing looks more like the Death Star gearing up to fire it’s laser.

Whatever the lights are the spacecraft is still too far way to get a high resolution photo. We will have to wait until Dawn is in orbit of the 590 mile across dwarf planet which it has been traveling toward for the past seven years.

What do you think the two bright spots on Ceres are?

Source: NPR

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