Images returned from off-world by NASA regularly give UFO watchers pause, and a new photo of the dwarf planet Ceres seems set to continue that tradition, as it depicts what appears to be a massive "pyramid" on the planetoid's surface.
Taken during the second mapping orbit of Ceres, the image reveals a giant raised mound, similar to a pyramid, upon the crater-marked surface. Clearly visible in Dawn Survey Orbit Image 6, which was taken on June 6 and posted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on June 17, the pyramid lies roughly 2,700 miles (4,400 kilometers) below the spacecraft.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft spots 'Great Pyramid' of Ceres - http://t.co/s8ag0ylpUL #NotAliens #space pic.twitter.com/Lg8QfCjA3xAs the Weather Network points out, the scale of the picture means that the formation on Ceres is roughly 18 kilometers wide. Each pixel in the image represents 140 meters on a side, and a rough estimate of the object's left-hand slope, which appears to be around 28 degrees, confirms a staggering height of 6,300 meters. Compared to the Great Pyramid of Giza, a paltry-by-comparison 139 meters high, the formation on Ceres is better described as a massive mountain.
— Scott Sutherland (@ScottWx_TWN) June 17, 2015
OK, who left a pile of trash on #Ceres? Lot of weird things happening on that dwarf planet... http://t.co/WW8a4Y7REl pic.twitter.com/JknN7carCVCeres has already generated a wealth of interest from the UFO community, after a pair of mysterious bright spots were observed on the surface by the approaching Dawn spacecraft. While a variety of explanations were offered for the existence of the strange reflective spots (including, of course, a hidden alien base), NASA scientists admitted that they weren't sure what had caused the lights on Ceres, as the Inquisitr previously reported.
— Corey S. Powell (@coreyspowell) June 17, 2015
Some researchers have posited that the bright spots could be the result of salt deposits or ice. In the case of ice, it was also suggested that Ceres could be home to cryovolcanoes (literally volcanoes that spew ice), which are known to exist on other planets in the solar system. The raised structure on Ceres appears to be an early confirmation of that theory, as its existence could be consistent with volcanism.
Ceres Has Lots of Bright Spots http://t.co/revC3NQga3 pic.twitter.com/7kc3OixO3ZThe brights spots also aren't the only reflective areas to be found on Ceres. As Universe Today observes, a recent image posted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (and also taken on June 6) depicts a spectacular rayed crater on the surface of Ceres, which bears some resemblance to the craters Kepler and Copernicus, found on the moon.
— Universe Today (@universetoday) June 17, 2015
While the bright spots on Ceres could be due to a number of effects, including sub-surface material revealed by impact, NASA has plenty of time to discover their composition. Dawn will descend for its high altitude mapping orbit from Aug 6 to Oct 15, before diving to 375 kilometers for its lowest orbit, which it will inhabit perpetually after Dec 8. Somewhere in that time frame, it will no doubt provide us with further answers regarding the bright spots and the "pyramid" on Ceres.
[Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA]