Ernutet Crater

Ernutet Crater
Ernutet Crater This image combines several photographs of Ernutet Crater taken through different color filters in Dawn’s science camera. (Ernutet was an Egyptian goddess, often depicted with the head of a cobra, who provided food and protected grains by eating pests such as rodents.) The colors have been enhanced to bring out subtle differences in the chemical composition of the material covering the ground that would not be visible to your unaided eye (even assuming your unaided eye were in the vicinity of Ceres). Using data acquired by the spacecraft’s infrared mapping spectrometer, scientists have determined that the red regions are rich in organic compounds. The organic molecules are based on chains of carbon atoms and represent a class of chemicals important in biochemistry. Such a finding, along with Dawn’s earlier discoveries of ice and other chemicals that likely were formed through interactions with water, makes Ceres very interesting for studies of astrobiology. Nevertheless, future colonists on Ceres would be expected to have little need for protection from native pestilential threats. The 32-mile (52-kilometer) Ernutet Crater is on this map at 53°N, 46°E. Full image and caption. NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

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