NASA’s fly-over images of Ceres suggests the dwarf planet may still be active

Last year, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbited Ceres, a dwarf planet that resides in an asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. This expedition was the first mission to study Ceres up close, and it produced a collection of detailed images that were sent back to Earth. NASA compiled these images to create a colorful animation that simulates the Ceres flyover and helps identify prominent features of the celestial object, including evidence that suggests the planet is still active.

The short clip is astounding in its detail, identifying prominent craters such as the distinctive Ahuna Mons, a pyramid-shaped mountain that towers over its surroundings on the dwarf planet’s otherwise relatively flat terrain. NASA also added color to the clip to differentiate between the surface materials on the dwarf planet, using blue to highlight the younger parts of the surface and gray to identify the older parts. These younger parts include fresher material such as flows, pits and cracks.

Most of the animation and video work were handled by members of Darwin’s framing camera team at the German Aerospace Center DLR. The clip is comprised of high-resolution images collected during Dawn’s high orbit mapping mission (900 miles) that took place from August to October 2015. Dawn is now performing its last and closest mapping mission, which will take the spacecraft to as little as 240 miles from the planet’s surface.

Ceres has fascinated scientists since it was first discovered in 1801. It was originally thought to be a planet but was officially reclassified as a dwarf planet in the 1850s. It is known for its large craters, tall mountains and the two white spots that are thought to be comprised of salt and frozen water. The mapping of the dwarf planet by the spacecraft was made possible through the collaboration of international space agencies including DARPA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, UCLA, and others.


New ‘Battlefield V’ patch gives Nvidia’s ray tracing support a chance to shine

‘Battlefield V’ is the first game to use Nvidia’s ray tracing support, now available with the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards. The feature can, in an ideal scenario, make the game look better, but the performance hit may not be…
Emerging Tech

China to launch the first mission to the far side of the moon

China plans to launch a spacecraft to the far side of the moon this month. The Chang’e-4 spacecraft is scheduled to take off on December 8 carrying a lander and rover, which will touch down on the lunar surface
Emerging Tech

Only three people have explored the deep oceans. Meet the next two

In a new mission called Five Deeps, a team of explorers will brave the inhospitable depths of the world’s oceans, observing, mapping, and collecting samples along the way. The explorers aim to traverse 40,000 nautical miles over the…
Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!