NASA video release takes viewers on a tour of Ceres
NASA has released avideo of Ceres that takes viewers on a tour across the surface of therocky planet. The video is based on observations made by the agency'sDawn spacecraft over the course of its first mapping orbit at adistance of 8,400 miles (13,600 km) as well as more recentnavigational images taken from 3,200 miles (5,100 km).
"We used athree-dimensional terrain model that we had produced based on theimages acquired so far," states Dawn team member Ralf Jaumann ofthe German Aerospace Center. "They willbecome increasingly detailed as the mission progresses, with eachadditional orbit bringing us closer to the surface."
Dawn made orbit aroundCeres on March 6 following intense speculation as to thenature of a series of white spots that had been detected on thesurface of the dwarf planet duringthe approach. Currently, the reason for the bright spots has not beendetermined, leading NASA to host a public vote allowing participantsto guess between salt deposits, ice, rock, geysers, and even thepresence of volcanoes as the culprit for the unusual features.
Tosom,e the video may seem short, but you have to take a step back andappreciate what it represents. Ceres was the first object to bediscovered in the asteroid belt, and has been known to ussince Sicilian astronomer Father Giuseppe Piazzi observed the dwarf planetback in 1801. Yet, prior to Jan.25. of this year, the most detailed image we had of the rocky bodywas a tiny blurry sphere captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
AsDawn drew ever nearer to Ceres, we began to see it in greaterdetail until the new images surpassed thoseof the legendary space telescope. Just a few months later, Dawn hasobserved the surface of the dwarf planet to the extent that we cananimate a detailed map of the surface. With this in mind, it's notjust a video, it's a testament to mankind's limitless curiosity andpotential.
NASA's tour of Ceres can be seen in the video below..