The Dawn probe took video of shining Ceres, illuminated by the Sun

© NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDAЦерера, illuminated by the SunThe Dawn probe took video of shining Ceres, illuminated by the Sun© NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

. Automatic station Dawn received a series of unique photographs of the surface of Ceres, illuminated by the Sun. These images allowed scientists for the first time to see the Sunny side of the dwarf planet and study it particles of soil, according to the jet propulsion Laboratory of NASA.

The Dawn probe is already two years studying the largest object in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter — Ceres, represents the germ of the planet, staying in development.

The first pictures Dawn got in March 2015, shortly after arriving to the dwarf planet. Then the scientists found the photo two unusual structures – white spots in the crater Okkator caught traces of a thick «brine», and a pyramidal mountain of Akhun, towering four kilometres.

Subsequently, the Dawn science team has found that the Sea actually is an ancient, already extinct cryovolcano and white spots turned out to be a temporary source of atmosphere Ceres, consisting of water vapour. In addition, in other regions, scientists have found deposits of pure ice — this indicates that the surface of Ceres is updated continuously, as the ice is supposed to evaporate into space.

To test all of these ideas the team of Dawn in February began a series of very long and complex orbital maneuvers that at the end of April brought the probe to a point located on the straight line between the Sun and Ceres.

From this point «opposition», as it is called by astronomers, the probe was able to obtain a series of unique images of the crater Okkator and other regions of the dwarf planet from a distance of only 20 thousand kilometers. It is not only allowed to look at Ceres in natural light, but also get a lot of new data that is not available with other orbits.

In particular, planetary scientists were able to see how Sun light interacts with the dust and soil particles Ceres, and to understand how much lighter the planet’s surface with direct lighting. This information, as the scientists explain, allows to accurately estimate the size of soil particles, determine how much of it then, and uncover many other important properties.

As scientists hope that they will also confirm that the white spots on Ceres are indeed traces of an extinct cryovolcano, will help to clarify how much ice on the surface of the dwarf planet and study its chemical composition.