NASA captures sharper images of dwarf planet

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Washington, Feb 18: NASA's Dawn spacecraft, on way to explore the dwarf planet called Ceres, has captured craters and mysterious bright spots on it.

The new images, taken at a distance from 83,000 km from the dwarf planet, pose intriguing questions for the science team as the spacecraft nears its destination, the US space agency said in a statement.

NASA

The latest images which have a resolution of 7.8 km per pixel represent the sharpest views of Ceres to date.

"As we slowly approach the stage, our eyes transfixed on Ceres and her planetary dance, we find she has beguiled us but left us none the wiser," said Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission based at University of California Los Angeles.

Dawn will be gently captured into orbit around Ceres March 6.

As the spacecraft delivers better images and other data, the science team will be investigating the nature and composition of the dwarf planet, including the nature of the craters and bright spots that are coming into focus.

The spacecraft explored the giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months during 2011 and 2012.

Scientists gained numerous insights about the geological history of this body and saw its cratered surface in fine detail.

By comparing Vesta and Ceres, they will develop a better understanding of the formation of the solar system.

IANS

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