Mysterious Bright Spots on Dwarf Planet Ceres May Be Water Ice
Strange features are most likely made of ice, and may be venting water vapor into space.
THE WOODLANDS, TexasOne of several mysterious bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres could be venting a plume of water vapor into space, suggesting that the little world is far from geologically dead.
The possible plume appeared in images taken as NASA’s Dawn spacecraft approached Ceres and was reported at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. It’s an exciting find, scientists say, and holds clues to what might lie beneath Ceres’s surface.
The plume’s appearance changes throughout the Cererian day. “During the day, the feature evolves. It brightens,” reported Andreas Nathues of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research. “At dusk time, it gets much fainter. And late dusk, it disappears completely.”
The puzzling bright spots, first spotted by