NASA's Dawn spacecraft has provided an even closer look at the bright spots on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres — but the origins of the spots are still subject to debate.
The latest view, released Wednesday, shows the flashes of sunlight reflected by the spots inside a 57-mile-wide (90-kilometer-wide) crater as Dawn flew within 4,500 miles (7,200 kilometers) of Ceres on May 16. There's one big spot with a smattering of smaller spots off to the right. The picture also shows that Ceres' surface is covered with scads of craters and channels.
Ceres has a diameter of 590 miles (950 kilometers), which makes it the largest object in the main asteroid belt as well as the smallest known dwarf planet. Dawn began orbiting Ceres in March after making a three-year trek from the asteroid Vesta, the second most massive asteroid.