These Are the Closest Photos We'll See of Ceres. Ever.

Illustration for article titled These Are the Closest Photos Well See of Ceres. Ever.

Returned from the lowest cruising altitude over the dwarf planet yet, these shots of Ceres are incredibly detailed—and could even show us some surprises.

As NASA’s Dawn spacecraft and its cameras approach Ceres, photos are getting more revealing. A few weeks back, a closer look showed that those mysterious bright spots that we’ve been seeing were probably made of salt. Now, the cameras have gotten to the lowest point they’re ever going to reach: 240 miles above the surface.

Researchers have already noted heavy cratering and cracking, which could be impact-marks. But another intriguing suggestion has popped up: earthquake stresses. The closer pictures may also be useful for coming up with more ideas about what’s forming the surface of Ceres.

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Here’s the full set of shots—including one they turned into a 3-D image.

Illustration for article titled These Are the Closest Photos Well See of Ceres. Ever.
Illustration for article titled These Are the Closest Photos Well See of Ceres. Ever.
Illustration for article titled These Are the Closest Photos Well See of Ceres. Ever.
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Illustration for article titled These Are the Closest Photos Well See of Ceres. Ever.

Images: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

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DISCUSSION

These Are the Closest Photos We’ll See of Ceres From the Dawn Spacecraft. Ever.

Fixed it for you. I am sure there will be, maybe not in the next few decades, closer pictures. I wouldn’t be surprised if we started sending landers and rovers to the outer planetoids. They really are our best options for off planet resources and launching points for deep space exploration.