The mysterious bright spots on Ceres are made of salt, NASA says

nasa-ceres-salt-spotNational Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA scientist have been investigating months on the image captures of the dwarf planet Ceres, and finally they have solved the mystery of the bright spots and believe that those spots reflecting back from the surface of Ceres are a huge salt deposit and not ice.

Chris Russell, the principle investigator of the Dawn spacecraft during the European Planetary Science Congress in France on Sept. 28 said that they are pretty sure its salt, but they are uncertain about the fact that what particular salt it is.

The bright spots have been a mystery and were previously speculated to be reflective ice, because Ceres is believed to harbor a subsurface ocean probably exposed and afterwards frozen by asteroid impact. They were also thought to be light rising form an underground alien space station.

The presence of the salt on Ceres as Russell argued, indicates activity on Ceres.

Russell  said, “[Salt] tells me that this is an active surface. Some comet or asteroid did not come in carrying salt; this is derived from the interior somehow.”

NASA describes the biggest of the brightest spots, the roughly six-mile wide crater called OCcator as the highlands area of the dwarf planet. Other bright spots are however situated in the lowland areas.

Russell said that primary mountain that was previously observed on Ceres that was showing bright streaks along the sides to be probably salt again and further added that the peak possibly has a sibling mountain that Dawn has not caught yet.

The NASA scientist said that any liquid water inside the planet might possibly contain life, and highlighted this as one of the reason why Dawn will not be landing on dwarf planet Ceres and potentially contaminate the local environment with Earth matter.

Dawn which is at the 915 mile altitude of the planet has send new topographic maps of Ceres that feature the Occator, the tall mountain, and over a dozen names for Ceres terrain, as recently approved by the International Astronomical Union. For example, YSolo Mons is the name for 12-mile wide mountain which is located near the north pole of the planet.

Dawn spacecraft was launched on September 2007 from Earth, it is the first mission toward a dwarf planet and also the first to orbit two different targets, and it has studied the protoplanet Vesta in 2011 and 2012 for 14 months. Dawn is continued to capture closer shots and provide scientific data of the Ceres surface to shed more light on the questions surrounding the dwarf planet.