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NASA Sets Up Website To Gather Votes Regarding Bright Spots On Ceres

28 April 2015, 8:46 am EDT By Sumit Passary Tech Times
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The Dawn spacecraft captures images of mysterious white spots on the surface of Ceres. Dawn has been observing the dwarf planet since April 23.  ( NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA )

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has set up a website that will collect votes regarding the bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres.

NASA launched the Dawn spacecraft to observe the dwarf planets Ceres and Vesta. Dawn has spotted mysterious white spots on the surface of the dwarf planet but scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is managing the Dawn mission, are unable to confirm more details about the spots.

To engage the public, NASA has setup a website and asking the public what they think about the mysterious spots on Ceres.

"Can you guess what's creating those unusual bright spots on Ceres?" per the new website on Ceres. "Until Dawn gets a closer look over the next few months, it's anyone's guess what those spots could be. So, go ahead! Cast your vote."

Viewers have six options to choose from: volcano, geyser, rock, ice, salt deposit or other.

NASA reveals that Ceres is the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The bright white spots on Ceres were observed previously by the Hubble Space Telescope but the images from Dawn spacecraft has captivated scientists even more.

"The approach imaging campaign has completed successfully by giving us a preliminary, tantalizing view of the world Dawn is about to start exploring in detail. It has allowed us to start asking some new and intriguing questions," says Marc Rayman, the director of the Dawn mission.

The Dawn spacecraft has already studied Vesta from 2011 to 2012. Scientists explain that understanding more about Ceres and Vesta will give them insights on the formation of the solar system. Scientists suggest that both the dwarf planets had the potential to become actual planets but their developments were interrupted.

Dawn has successfully delivered images of Ceres to scientists on the Earth and the spacecraft will continue to observe and find more details about Ceres in the near term. From April 23, the Dawn spacecraft will spend around three weeks in the orbit around Ceres. The craft will take images of the dwarf planet from about 8,400 miles, or 13,500 kilometers, over the surface.

In early May, the Dawn spacecraft will also move to the lower orbit of Ceres to get better views and make further observations.

Visit the new Ceres website to poll what you think about the mysterious white spots on the surface of Ceres.

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