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What are the bright flashes coming from Ceres, the dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter?

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The dwarf planet, Ceres, continues to puzzle NASA scientists as its Dawn spacecraft approaches the planet to begin its orbit around the mysterious object. The latest images from Dawn were taken about 29,000 miles away from Ceres and have revealed two mysterious bright flashes of light on the planet’s surface. The two bright spots of light appear next to each other in the bottom of a huge crater or volcanic depression.

Dawn will go into orbit around Ceres on March 6, 2015, after which NASA will receive higher resolution photographs from the spacecraft. NASA explained,

“The brightest spot continues to be too small to resolve with our camera, but despite its size it is brighter than anything else on Ceres. This is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us.”

Once the ship goes into orbit around Ceres, the intriguing bright spots and other interesting features of this captivating world will come into sharper focus and we will hopefully determine whether the bright spots are anomalies, camera abnormalities, ice reflections, or something more ominous (e.g., aliens using flash-photography to capture Dawn’s approach).

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