Speculation on Dwarf Planet Ceres Bright Spots

As the Dawn spacecraft continues its adventure, getting closer to the dwarf planet Ceres, scientists are still speculating on what the bright spots seen on the planet’s surface might be. Despite the spacecraft coming as close as 4,500 miles above the surface, there still is no definitive answer as to what the spots are.

NASA Asks the Public’s Opinion

As better images have been available of the dwarf planet Ceres, NASA has asked the public to weigh in on what they think the bright spots on Ceres might be. Answers have ranged from the highly thoughtful to the outlandish. Christopher Russell of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the lead investigator on the Dawn mission, has stated that their conclusion is that it is some sort of shiny material that is just reflecting the rays of the Sun. However, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. He also says that they figure the material is probably ice.

Good and Bad Ideas Put Forward About the Dwarf Planet Ceres

Some have hoped that the bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres are signs of intelligent life, perhaps an extraterrestrial outpost or remnants of alien probes. Other suggestions are that the lights are volcanoes, geysers, salt deposits or simply ice. One commenter on the Dawn mission Facebook page suggested that it might be a replica of Las Vegas, as the spots looks oddly similar to the shape Las Vegas lights take when seen from space.

Results of NASA Poll Shows Many Undecided

The results of the NASA poll have so far proven not to be very helpful in finding a consensus as to what the bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres might be. The adventure in theorizing is still ongoing among the public and scientists alike. A full 37% chose “other” as the reason for the bright lights, meaning they hadn’t heard a theory yet that they were happy with. Around 30% are going with the idea that the reflective surface is ice. Geysers came in with 9% of the vote, while salt deposits garnered 8% and some apparently very shiny rocks took 6% of the vote.

The bright spots are located inside a crater on the dwarf planet Ceres and many are speculating that they are elevated above the crater floor. Other speculation wonders if the spots occurred after the Hubble Space Telescope took photos in 2004, or if it simply missed seeing them because of the distance.

The answer really is that we are not likely to know for certain what the bright spots on the dwarf planet Ceres are until probes can get down there and actually take samples. Until then, it is fun to fantasize that they are something more interesting than ice.