NASA probe captures breathtaking pictures of dwarf planet Ceres

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft is capturing breathtaking images of Ceres as the spacecraft orbits around the dwarf planet.

The new images, which were released by NASA on Tuesday, were taken in October during the spacecraft’s fifth orbit.

One of the photos shows the Occator Crater, which is 57 miles wide and 2.5 miles deep, according to a statement from NASA. 

The crater drew attention since the probe first captured photos showing what looked like strange bright lights from the crater. 

Images taken closer to the crater allowed researchers to understand what might cause the lights, Ralf Jaumann, planetary scientist and Dawn co-investigator at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Berlin, said in March.

"Before Dawn began its intensive observations of Ceres last year, Occator Crater looked to be one large bright area," Jaumann said.

Photos of other craters across Ceres, many with bright areas of their own, have also been released by NASA in the past year.

According to NASA, the bright areas are likely comprised of salts left behind by disappearing water or ice.

“The impact that formed the crater millions of years ago unearthed material that blanketed the area outside the crater, and may have triggered the upwelling of salty liquid,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA also released a photo of what the dwarf planet’s colors would like to the human eye.

Follow Mary Bowerman on Twitter: @MaryBowerman 


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