Ceres Full Maps

Since the Dawn spacecraft arrived at Ceres in March of this year, it has slowly been taking high resolution maps of the surface from several different altitudes. After each successive mapping run it moves into a closer orbit of the icy world for a higher resolution glimpse. After two successful mapping runs, we finally have a full high resolution topographic map of Ceres, revealing its cratered surface in unprecedented detail.

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

With a quick look at the map, a couple of things become apparent immediately.  For one, the surface craters are quite deep, and consistent with an icy crust.  The size and depth of the craters is similar to those seen on the comparably-sized icy moons of the solar system, such as Dione orbiting Saturn.

We also see that the enigmatic reflective crater has been named Occator, after the Roman god of harrowing.  The crater is easily distinct from the rest of Ceres’ topology.  The video below shows a detailed 3D view of the world map, giving us a perspective on the character of the dwarf planet.

Dawn is currently moving into a closer orbit around Ceres, with the goal of taking higher resolution maps as it undergoes continuing science operations over the next year.

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