Dawn Spacecraft Finds Mysterious “Lonely Mountain” on Ceres

Image Credit NASA/JPL

While much of the space science community is anxiously awaiting the July 14th flyby of the New Horizons probe at the system headlined by former planet Pluto, a much more accessible dwarf planet, Ceres seems determined to keep its own place in the spotlight.

In addition to the growing number of mysterious highly reflective “bright spots” imaged by the Dawn spacecraft, the most recent release of photographs have presented another challenge to mission scientists as well as casual observers. The image, taken June 6 from an altitude of 4,400 km, shows a very large, pyramid shaped mountain rising 5 km out of an otherwise flat plain, and its origins are far from obvious.

Approximately the size of Europe’s Mont Blanc, the finding is sure to delight serious scientists, alien architecture believers and conspiracy theorists alike, at least until a plausible explanation emerges. As for naming, mark one vote for Erebor, Middle Earth’s Lonely Mountain. After all there could be buried treasure.

The weekly science journal Nature has an article detailing the discovery as well as an overview of what we have learned about Ceres thus far.

Posted in: Asteroids, NASA

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