New image release represents highest resolution view of Occator crater to date
A new NASA imagerelease is granting the highest-resolution view of the now-famousOccator crater – the most distinctive geological feature on thedwarf planet Ceres to date. The images were snapped by NASA's Dawnspacecraft at a height of 915 miles (1,470 km) as it continues toobserve Ceres from its third mapping orbit.
The newly-releasedimage has a resolution of 450 ft (140 m) per pixel, granting Dawn'sscience team a view roughly 10 times better when compared to imagesthe probe returned upon first arriving at the planet in April.
Ordinarily the contrast between the incredibly bright whitespots and the relatively dull surface of the dwarf planet would bemuch more extreme. To lessen the effect, two images – one of the fully-exposed white spots, and another edited shot of the surface – werecombined to create the composite image seen at the top of the page.
"Dawn hastransformed what was so recently a few bright dots into a complex andbeautiful, gleaming landscape," states Dawn's chief engineer andmission director at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,California. "Soon, the scientific analysis will reveal thegeological and chemical nature of this mysterious and mesmerizingextraterrestrial scenery."
Dawn's science teamhas also taken the time to collate data collected on the Occatorcrater into a 3D representation of the impact site. The data used toconstruct the animation was collected over two 11-day mapping cycles, totaling 28 orbits. The animation emphasizes geographicalcharacteristics that are hard to pick out on a static image, such asthe mile-high (2 km) crater rim, which reaches an almost vertical angle at points.
Over the next two months, Dawn will map the entirety of Ceres a further six times.