The discovery of another bright light on the dwarf planet Ceres has NASA scientists scratch their heads.
The space probe US Dawn will soon enter orbit around the largest object in the asteroid belt. There is some hope that the probe can solve the mystery.
Pictures taken from a distance of 46,000 kilometers show a bright light on the planet.
Scientists earlier discovered a light just beside it which is a bit more dim, according to a press release from NASA.
The light comes from almost the same point as the second light, images NASA has published displays.
- It may be that the spots are volcanic, but we must wait until we get pictures with better resolution before we can make such geological interpretations, says Chris Russel from the Dawn mission.
The Dawn spacecraft will go into orbit around Ceres on March 6th. Scientists believe they will get better views of the mysterious lights as the spacecraft approaches.
- The strongest light is still too small for our cameras to get a good picture of it, but despite the size it glows stronger than anything else on Ceres. It is totally unexpected and still a mystery to us, says researcher Andreas Nathu, who is responsible for the camera on the spacecraft.
Researchers discovered water vapor from Ceres in 2012, and NASA reports that the surface of the celestial body has "minerals that can carry water."
The Dawn space probe was launched in 2007 and was sent to investigate the two largest bodies in the asteroid belt, which lies between Mars and Jupiter.
Dawn examined the giant asteroid Vesta in 2011 and took measurements and images. After 2012 the probe left Vesta and began the journey toward Ceres.
Ceres has a diameter of about 950 km, and Vesta has a diameter of about 525 km.
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