Space

New color map highlights diverse geological features on Ceres

Color-coded topographic maps of Ceres East and West hemispheres
Color-coded topographic maps of Ceres East and West hemispheres
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Color-coded topographic map of Ceres, complete with newly-approved feature names
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Color-coded topographic map of Ceres, complete with newly-approved feature names
Color-coded topographic maps of Ceres East and West hemispheres
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Color-coded topographic maps of Ceres East and West hemispheres

NASA has released aglobal color map of the dwarf planet Ceres showing the highs and lowsof topography on the rocky body's surface. The new map comes with newofficial names for many of the craters and other geological featuresdotting the surface of the planet, named for religious figures from avariety of cultures approved by the International Astronomical Union.

"The craters wefind on Ceres, in terms of their depth and diameter, are very similarto what we see on Dione and Tethys, two icy satellites of Saturn thatare about the same size and density as Ceres," states Dawnscience team member and geologist at the Lunar and PlanetaryInstitute, Houston Paul Schenk. "The features are prettyconsistent with an ice-rich crust."

The map was createdfrom images collected by Dawn's framing camera since its arrival inearly March this year. An animated 3D model of the map was also created bycombining the data from the framing camera with an image mosaic ofCeres, which was then projected onto a 3D model of the dwarf planet.

Color-coded topographic map of Ceres, complete with newly-approved feature names
Color-coded topographic map of Ceres, complete with newly-approved feature names

With the new map, lowerregions extending up to 5 miles (7.5 km) below the standard surfacelevel are shown in indigo, with the highest geological features, upto 5 miles above the surface, displayed in white. The color scale forthe animated version of the map is different however, with the lowestareas represented in purple, and the highest in brown.

Dawn recently movedinto its third mapping orbit which will see the spacecraft move towithin 900 miles (1,448 km) of the planet's surface. The orbiter'scloser proximity to Ceres will allow the probe to capture even moredetailed observations of the planet's surface, while furtherexamining the confusing white spots contrasting in the newly namedOccator crater. Fittingly, Occator in Roman mythology was a helperdeity to Ceres, the god of agriculture.

Scroll down for a lookat the animated version of the newly released global map of Ceres.

Source: NASA JPL

Ceres Topographic Globe Animation

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