Dawn breaks over distant Ceres ... and perhaps reveals signs of habitability

March 19, 2015 11:20 AM

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Dawn breaks over distant Ceres ... and perhaps reveals signs of habitability

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is about to start its investigation of the largest member of the asteroid belt, 1 Ceres. It will take detailed images of the dwarf planet, and produce a geological map of its entire surface. But even before the spacecraft has reached its optimum orbit, the preliminary results just released are already surprising and delighting planetary scientists.

Up until February 2015, the best images taken of Ceres were from the Hubble space telescope, showing a near-spherical body with one area that was much brighter than the rest of the surface. As Dawn approached Ceres, its camera acquired some remarkable images, at about three times the resolution of t...

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