A Closer Look At Ceres' Mysterious Bright Spots Reveals We Were Wrong

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With better closer looks at Ceres’ surface, we’ve been expecting to get close enough to finally see a little more about where those two unknown light marks were coming from. Well, now we might have. And, it turns out that we were incorrect about one very rudimentary fact: There were not two of them. There were essentially lots and lots. After taking a look at the surface from 8,400 miles away (the clearest and closest look yet), NASA researchers described twothings: One, that the two perky spots were in fact composed of many smaller bright spots, and, two, that their brightness was due to the light of the sun. Principal investigator Christopher Russell noted:

Image Credit: Ceres in rotation with each pixel signifying .8 miles / NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA.

“Dawn researchers can now determine that the powerful brightness of these spots is due to the reflection of sunlight by extremely reflective material on the surface, perhaps ice.”

Obviously, even though we now know how, the question of what it is — ice? Space volcanoes? Thousands of little Ceres roverbots armed with their own tinfoil hats? (NOTE: it is not that last one) — Still remains. Until our next clearest and closest look, at least.
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