The North Pole

North PoleAfter spending more than a month being captured into orbit on the dark side of dwarf planet Ceres, the Dawn spacecraft has traveled so that the sunlit north pole has come into view. These images used to make this animation were taken on 10 April at a range of around 33,000 km, and they represent the highest-resolution views of Ceres released to date. The spacecraft will settle into an 13,500 km orbit around Ceres and hold that distance until 9 May when it will move in for a closer look.

Image Credit: NASA

Dawn’s First Map of Ceres

Dawn_FirstMapThis map of Ceres was created from images taken by the Dawn spacecraft during its initial approach to the dwarf planet before it was captured into orbit in March.

The map is a false color view to highlight subtle color differences across Ceres to provide insights into the physical properties and composition of materials on the surface. Images taken using blue (440 nm), green (550 nm) and infrared (920 nm) filters were combined to create the map, but he filters were assigned to color channels in reverse order. The short-wavelength blue images were assigned to the red color channel and the long-wavelength infrared images are assigned to the blue color channel.

Image Credit: NASA


The crammed centre of Messier 22This is the center of the globular cluster Messier 22 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Globular clusters are more-or-less spherical collections of densely packed stars; they are relics of the early years of the Universe with ages of in the range of 12 to 13 billion years. The Universe is only 13.8 billion years old.

M22 is one of about 150 globular clusters in the Milky Way, and it is also one of the closest to Earth, only about 10,000 light-years away. The cluster has a diameter of about 70 light-years and appears to take up a patch of sky the size of the full Moon. However, the light from the stars in the cluster is not very bright because it is dimmed by dust and gas between the solar system and the cluster.

M22 in particular has some fascinating features: six planet-sized objects that are not orbiting a star have been detected in the cluster, and it contains two black holes.

Image Credit: ESA/NASA