New Dawn image release provides high-res views of Ceres' craters
High resolution images snapped by NASA's Dawn spacecraft capture four of Ceres' craters in stunning detail. Dawn recently completed transitioning to its thirdand final mapping orbit, which will see the spacecraft collect itsmost detailed images and readings to date from a height of roughly240 miles (385 km) above the dwarf planet's surface.
The new release focuseson geological features present in a selection of Ceres' craters. Theimage of the Kupalo Crater boasts a resolution of roughly 120 ft (35m) per pixel, and exhibits what appears to be bright salt depositson the crater rim. Mission scientists are not yet sure whether thesedeposits bear any relation to the bright spots present in the nowfamous Occator Crater.
Also included in therelease was the 78 mile (126 km) wide Dantu Crater. Unlike Kupalo,which owes its relatively flat crater floor to a combination ofimpact melt and subsequent settling of debris, Dantu exhibits astriking network of fissures marring the crater basin. Dawn's scienceteam believes that the fractures could be the result of the craterfloor being uplifted and cracking following the initial impact
Other instruments suchas Dawn's visible and infrared mapping spectrometer and her gamma rayand neutron detector (GraND), are locked in a race against time tocollect as much information as possible in order to characterizeCeres prior to the termination of the probe's primary mission, whichis slated to take place on June 30, 2016.