Permanent Shadows on Ceres

  • Released Thursday, July 7, 2016

In a new study published in Geophysical Research Letters, lead author Norbert Schorghofer (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii) and six other scientists identify permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) near the north pole of dwarf planet Ceres, using data gathered by the Dawn spacecraft.

Dawn arrived at Ceres in March of 2015. Since then, its Framing Camera (FC) instrument has photographed the entire surface of Ceres at resolutions down to 62 meters per pixel. Scientists at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, or DLR) have used stereo pairs of FC images to create a global digital terrain map (DTM) of the dwarf planet.

The authors of the PSR study used the Ceres DTM and a technique called raytracing to find points on the surface of Ceres that never receive direct sunlight. These PSRs are expected to be cold enough to accumulate water ice over long time spans, and future spacecraft visiting Ceres are likely to find fresh water ice there.

A visualization of the permanently shadowed regions (PSRs) at the north pole of Ceres as viewed from directly above the pole. While Ceres rotates, areas of day and night move around the pole, but the PSRs remain in darkness.

A print-resolution still image illustrating the locations of permanently shadowed regions (light blue) at the north pole of Ceres.

A print-resolution still image illustrating the locations of permanently shadowed regions (light blue) at the north pole of Ceres.

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Credits

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NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Release date

This page was originally published on Thursday, July 7, 2016.
This page was last updated on Monday, July 15, 2024 at 12:04 AM EDT.


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Papers used in this visualization

N. Schorghofer et al., The permanently shadowed regions of dwarf planet Ceres, Geophysical Research Letters, 6 July 2016

N. Schorghofer et al., The permanently shadowed regions of dwarf planet Ceres, Geophysical Research Letters, 6 July 2016


Datasets used in this visualization

  • Dawn Ceres Color Map (Ceres High Sun Global Color Mosaic) [Dawn: Framing Camera]

    ID: 928
    Type: MosaicSensor: Framing Camera

    A global color mosaic of the surface of dwarf planet Ceres assembled from Dawn Framing Camera images.

    Credit: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

    See all pages that use this dataset
  • Dawn Ceres DEM (Ceres Global Digital Elevation Map) [Dawn: Framing Camera]

    ID: 929
    Type: MosaicSensor: Framing Camera

    Ceres global elevation data (DEM) developed from stereo photogrammetry using Dawn Framing Camera images.

    Credit: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

    See all pages that use this dataset
  • Ceres PSRs (North) (Ceres Permanently Shadowed Regions (North)) [Dawn]

    ID: 930
    Type: Model

    A map of the permanently shadowed regions near the north pole of dward planet Ceres, derived from the Dawn Ceres DEM.

    Credit: Norbert Schorghofer (Institute for Astronomy, Univ. of HI), Erwan Mazarico (NASA GSFC), et al.

    See all pages that use this dataset

Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.