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NASA still cant explain mysterious spots on dwarf planet
The brightest spots on dwarf planet Ceres are seen in this image taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on June 6, 2015. - photo by Natalie Crofts
PASADENA, Calif. Even with closer pictures, NASA still isnt sure what the mysterious glowing spots on Ceres are.

The bright spots were first captured by NASAs Dawn spacecraft when it was 52,000 miles away from the dwarf planet in February, puzzling researchers back at home on Earth. The latest batch of images, which were taken from a distance of 2,700 miles above Ceres, were released by the space agency Wednesday.

"The bright spots in this configuration make Ceres unique from anything we've seen before in the solar system, principal investigator Chris Russell said in a statement. The science team is working to understand their source. Reflection from ice is the leading candidate in my mind, but the team continues to consider alternate possibilities, such as salt.

With closer views from the new orbit and multiple view angles, we soon will be better able to determine the nature of this enigmatic phenomenon," he continued.

NASA estimates the crater where the unusual spots are located is about 55 miles across. Researchers described the spots as being made up of many individual points of differing sizes, with a central cluster.

The Dawn spacecraft will continue to orbit the dwarf planet at a distance of 2,700 miles until June 28, when it will drop down to 900 miles from the surface, according to NASA. In addition to getting a closer look at the bright spots, researchers said they hope to learn more about Ceres many craters.
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