Mountains, craters revealed in latest images of dwarf planet Ceres

craters on Ceres

Two eroded craters on Ceres, each about 130 kilometers across, dominate the terrain in a new picture from the Dawn spacecraft.


Mountains, plains and craters take center stage in a new batch of images from the Dawn spacecraft, which has been in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres since March 6. A 6-kilometer-high mountain and rippling terrain are just two of the features revealed in the latest images.

The probe will spend the next two months snapping pictures from an altitude of 1,470 kilometers. While there, Dawn will characterize minerals on the surface as well as map Ceres’ gravity, which gives researchers a peek inside the tiny world. In October, Dawn will descend to its final orbit where it will check out the dwarf planet from just 375 kilometers away.

mountain on the surface of ceres
Bright streaks mark the slopes of a 6-kilometer-tall mountain that towers over Ceres’ cratered landscape, in this image from the Dawn spacecraft. JPL-Caltech/NASA, UCLA, MPS, DLR, IDA

Christopher Crockett is an Associate News Editor. He was formerly the astronomy writer from 2014 to 2017, and he has a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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