This is an image of Ceres taken last weekend, shortly after Dawn entered into its RC3 orbit. About the time this image was being taken, I was giving a lecture titled “The Dawn Mission at Dwarf Planet Ceres” at Penguicon. I’d edited my older “Dawn at Vesta” lecture, added some history about Ceres, and a few old maps and engravings showing the Solar System changing over the first half of the Nineteenth-Century.
I added as many Ceres approach and orbit insertion images as I could, animated wherever possible, but I *ahem* didn’t have any science results to discuss, except for the single false-color map of Ceres’ surface:
I briefly discussed the controversy of the “Mysterious Bright Spots.” I mentioned how dark the surface of Ceres is (Ceres’ albedo is lower than our Moon’s), how much less light Ceres receives than Earth (~150 W/m2 -vs- 1366 W/m2 at Earth), and that the bright spots might be bright because of image overexposure. Are they lighter-colored ices underneath Ceres’ dark surface? Jets? An entrance into a hollow spaceship-like interior? (No, seriously… a friend is jokingly taunting me with this “hypothesis”…)
We’ll know more in coming weeks; Science is happening NOW at Ceres, and I can barely contain my excitement! I hope to have some actual science results to report when I give my Dawn at Ceres lecture to the Warren Astronomical Society at Cranbrook Institute of Science on June 1st.