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Bright Spots on Dwarf Planet Ceres are Made Up of Salt, Scientists Say

Nov 24, 2016 04:05 AM EST
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Dwarf planet Ceres is another interesting object being studied up-close by NASA. Recent stunning images captured by Dawn spacecraft show some bright spots on the surface of Ceres. Scientists say that the spots are made up of solidified briny liquid that turned into salt that seeped through the surface during an impact.

NASA recently released some breathtaking and stunning images of the dwarf planet Ceres. The images abruptly captured the interest of the scientific community and the public as well. However, the images are not without controversy. There were evident bright spots on the surface of Ceres that triggered a debate on what is causing the unusual occurrence on Ceres.

Dawn's latest orbit above Ceres gave scientists new data to analyze including a high-resolution image of one of the most famous craters on the dwarf planet. "This image captures the wonder of soaring above this fascinating, unique world that Dawn is the first to explore," Marc Rayman, Dawn's chief engineer and mission director said in a press release.

NASA also explained what could have caused the bright spots on Ceres. The set of images includes a close of Occator Crater taken on Oct. 16. Dawn spacecraft was about 920 miles above Ceres when the image was taken. This region is said to be the brightest spot on the surface of the dwarf planet.

 Although some conspiracy theorists say the bright spot could be a UFO, scientists behind the Dawn mission say there is nothing extraterrestrial about the unusually bright spot. The spot is actually made up of salt located in the crater. One theory to explain the presence of salt in the crater is one that includes an impact that caused a briny liquid leak from underground. The salty liquid water immediately froze turning into salt that causes the bright, somehow reflective layer on the crater, according to a report.

So far, the images have provided scientists a ton of information about the dwarf planet. But they are far from being done. Dawn will perform future orbits to Ceres that is expected to provide more scientific data about the composition of the dwarf planet's surface.

 

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