The pyramid-shaped mountain, Ahuna Mons, of Dwarf planet Ceres has opened up some of its wonders to us as NASA’s Dawn spacecraft was able to capture precious information when it moved into orbit around it.
Ceres is situated in the asteroid belt lying between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn spacecraft slid into orbit a year ago, on March 6, with the aim of finding out more about the unknown dwarf planet.
Ahuna Mons is one of the most conspicuous and documented features of Ceres; other structures found on the dwarf planet do not match its height (5 km at its steepest side, and an average height of 4 km) or ‘high definition’. As Dawn has been approaching closer and closer, we have been able to learn more about this landscape feature: it is not exactly pyramidal in shape.
Ahuna Mons might seem to be taking the shape of a pyramid from afar, but its appearance, in fact, resembles a dome with “smooth, steep walls”. Some of its slopes have revealed the presence of bright materials.
New images of Ceres will be released at the 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference on March 22.
Ceres was in the spotlight earlier because of mysterious bright spots spotted on its surface, in the Occator crater which is another famous feature of Ceres.
A number of theories have been concocted since then to explain the occurrence and nature of these bright ‘lights’: from salt deposits to ice.