First Complete Look At Ceres’ Poles

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

November 20, 2015 – Researchers from NASA’s Dawn mission have composed the first comprehensive views of the north (left) and south pole regions (right) of dwarf planet Ceres, using images obtained by the Dawn spacecraft. The images were taken between August 17 and October 23, 2015, from an altitude of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers).

The region around the south pole appears black in this view because this area has been in shade ever since Dawn’s arrival on March 6, 2015, and is therefore not visible.

At the north polar region, craters Jarovit, Ghanan and Asari are visible, as well as the mountain Ysolo Mons. Near the south pole, craters Attis and Zadeni can be seen.

Detailed maps of the polar regions allow researchers to study the craters in this area and compare them to those covering other parts of Ceres. Variations in shape and complexity can point to different surface compositions. In addition, the bottoms of some craters located close to the poles receive no sunlight throughout Ceres’ orbit around the sun. Scientists want to investigate whether surface ice can be found there.

Dawn’s mission is managed by JPL for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Dawn is a project of the directorate’s Discovery Program, managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. UCLA is responsible for overall Dawn mission science. Orbital ATK, Inc., in Dulles, Virginia, designed and built the spacecraft. The German Aerospace Center, the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute are international partners on the mission team.