Universe

What NASA is looking for on the surface of Ceres? mysterious lights?

Reach of the probe near the Juno Jupiter have focused all the attention of scientists, but also ordinary amateurs of astronomy. Meanwhile, Dawn probe received another order from NASA. It turns out that Dawn for another year to remain in orbit the dwarf planet Ceres, circulating inside the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

NASA has announced that after this phase of its mission has been completed in July, could send Dawn to investigate another already the third object. The proposed aim of the expedition was the asteroid 145 Adeona. Plan was to probe got to this asteroid in may 2019, Eventually it was decided that more priority remains to identify what are the mysterious lights seen on Ceres.

It looks like, moreover, that the future of the courts of the Dawn has sparked many a quarrel among NASA employees. Jim Green, Director of NASA, responsible for the operation of the probe ultimately supported keeping it in orbit of Ceres. “Long-term monitoring of Ceres, especially that approaching the perihelion-part of the orbit with the shortest distance to the Sun-has the potential to provide more significant scientific discoveries than fly next to the Adeony,” said Green.

Surface of Ceres scan timing and results

On the other hand, Carol Raymond, Deputy Principal investigator Dawn stated that it is not worth to prolong the mission and supported the expedition to Adeony. The decision had to be made quickly because the possibility to go in the direction of Adeony will disappear on July 12, when the amount of fuel falls below the level that is needed for the journey. At this moment Dawn has enough fuel to maintain its orbit around Ceres at least until 2017.

It was decided therefore that Dawn will investigate Ceres surface.

It’s enough time to oppose the theories about the origin of the mysterious lights on Ceres. The latest explanation explains changes in brightness of the spots using the burning gas, which is cooled because of a not yet established underground thermal activity. In other words, this is still a puzzle.

More information about Juno

Start mission Juno followed on August 5, 2011. This is an expedition organized by NASA under the New Frontiers, the same class vehicle. By five years after the solar system’s internal toured the Juno, gradually changing its orbit.

During this time, the probe was the study of the solar wind and (recently) “receipt” in the strong magnetosphere of Jupiter.

Finally, 5 July (in the USA 4 July-American Festival) probe has been “captured” by Jupiter. Entering into orbit around a gas giant has resulted from firing the main engine of the probe on 35 minutes. The operation, which began on July 5 at 05:18 BST, was properly and the probe entered the preliminary orbit around Jupiter with the term of circulation of more than 53 days. This orbit will succumb to gradual change.

Ceres

On board the Juno have a total of nine scientific instruments. The probe will be able to send about 40 megabytes of data from each of its orbit, which is a relatively small value. For this reason, on board the Juno have only one camera working in visible light-JunoCam. Jupiter still hides many secrets, which are of major importance for our understanding of the process of the creation of the planets and their current roster.