Astro-physicists have been waiting for months to unravel the mystery of bright lights on asteroid Ceres and the Dawn spacecraft that is inching closer to its surface is still far from resolving puzzle.
Located between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres has its visitor from Earth, NASA’s dawn mission to take the first glimpse and send pictures of the dwarf planet.
While the debate still goes on whether they are just ice or salt deposits reflecting the light, other conspiracy champions have taken to the social media saying they are the bright lights from an alien city, already living tight on the dwarf planet.
Other theories suggest that it could be light reflection from thick fume emanating from a volcano or its geyser but this theory was brushed aside as the lights remained static from the beginning.
“The bright spots in this configuration make Ceres unique from anything we’ve seen before in the solar system,” says Dawn principal investigator Chris Russell of UCLA, whose team is struggling to find the puzzling source of the bright light on Ceres surface.
“Reflection from ice is the leading possible cause in my mind, but the team continues to consider alternate possibilities, such as salt,” he said, hoping to see more pictures from Dawn with multiple angles to better detrmine the exact source of the light.
As of now, he estimates that the larger spot in two lights could be crater measuring 55 miles (90 kilometers) . Dawn will remain in the orbit of Ceres studying the dwarf planet until 2016 and is likely to reach as close as 230 miles (375 km) to get a better picture of the two mysterious spots on Ceres.
A close rendezvous is scheduled on June 28 for Dawn to go down to an altitude of 900 miles (1,450 km), and reach its nearest orbit around Ceres at 230 miles in August.
The Dawn has been sent to study Ceres and Vesta, the two largest objects in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It had orbited already the asteroid Vesta from July 2011 through September 2012 sending closer pictures and then moved towards Ceres.