Occator Crater snapshot

Occator Crater snapshot
Occator Crater snapshot Dawn took this photo of Occator Crater on Oct. 18, 2016, at an altitude of 920 miles (1,480 kilometers) in extended mission orbit 2. We have seen other views of Occator, from farther, from closer, with exposures optimized for the brightest areas, in color, with the crater on the limb of Ceres and more, but you can never have too many pictures of such a captivating scene. The central bright region is Cerealia Facula, and the collection of others is Vinalia Faculae. (A bright region on a planet is a facula. Here is more on these names.) These are the brightest areas on Ceres. One scenario for how they formed is that underground briny water made its way to the surface through fractures. When the water was on the ground, exposed to the cold vacuum of space, it froze and sublimated (that is, it transformed from a solid to a gas). The dissolved salt was left behind, with sodium carbonate being the likely principal constituent, and that reflective material is what we see here. We will see below that opposition surge measurements may provide evidence to support or modify this scenario. (A recent estimate is that Cerealia Facula may be some tens of millions of years younger than the crater itself. We discussed last year how ages are determined.) Since we can’t have too many views of this exotic scenery, another is below (and it shows the fractures that may have served as conduits for the water). Occator is on this map at 20°N, 239°E. Full image and caption. NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

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