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Scientists say they are hugely excited to learn the origin of two bright spots on the surface of Ceres.
Intriguingly, the European Space Agency's Herschel telescope reported last year seeing water vapour coming from two sectors on Ceres. One of these sectors includes the location of the spots.

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Dawn Captures Sharper Images of Ceres

Craters and mysterious bright spots are beginning to pop out in the latest images of Ceres from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. These images, taken Feb. 12 at a distance of 83,000 kilometres from the dwarf planet, pose intriguing questions for the science team to explore as the spacecraft nears its destination.
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NASAs Dawn Spacecraft Captures Best-Ever View of Dwarf Planet

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This animation of the dwarf planet Ceres was made by combining images taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on Jan. 25. The spacecraft's framing camera took these images, at a distance of about 237,000 kilometres from Ceres, and they represent the highest-resolution views to date of the dwarf planet.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL

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Ceres asteroid vents water vapour

Observations of the Solar System's biggest asteroid suggest it is spewing plumes of water vapour into space.
Ceres has long been thought to contain substantial quantities of ice within its body, but this is the first time such releases have been detected.
The discovery was made by Europe's infrared Herschel space telescope, and is reported in the journal Nature.

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In the Observatory of Palermo the astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the first and the largest asteroid to be identified Ceres (today considered a dwarf planet) on January 1, 1801
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The 1st August 2012 is Ceres 46th birthday. (The Orbital period is 4.60 years or 1680.5 days)

Discovered on 1 January 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi, Ceres was the first asteroid to be identified, though it was classified as a planet at the time.



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Chart for the dwarf planet Ceres from 24th February to 30th March 2012.

At magnitude 9.2 Ceres should be visible in medium to large telescopes, unfortunately the lack of nearby bright stars will make tracking it down quite difficult.



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Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi discovered the asteroid (1) Ceres on the 1st January, 1801.

Hubble Views Ceres Rotation (2003-2004)



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Title: The remarkable surface homogeneity of the Dawn mission target (1) Ceres
Authors: Benoit Carry, Pierre Vernazza, Christophe Dumas, William J. Merline, Olivier Mousis, Philippe Rousselot, Emmanuel Jehin, Jean Manfroid, Marcello Fulchignoni, Jean-Marc Zucconi

Dwarf-planet (1) Ceres is one of the two targets, along with (4) Vesta, that will be studied by the NASA Dawn spacecraft via imaging, visible and near-infrared spectroscopy, and gamma-ray and neutron spectroscopy. While Ceres' visible and near-infrared disk-integrated spectra have been well characterized, little has been done about quantifying spectral variations over the surface. Any spectral variation would give us insights on the geographical variation of the composition and/or the surface age. The only work so far was that of Rivkin & Volquardsen (2010, Icarus 206, 327) who reported rotationally-resolved spectroscopic (disk-integrated) observations in the 2.2-4.0 {\mu}m range; their observations showed evidence for a relatively uniform surface. Here, we report disk-resolved observations of Ceres with SINFONI (ESO VLT) in the 1.17-1.32 {\mu}m and 1.45-2.35 {\mu}m wavelength ranges. The observations were made under excellent seeing conditions (0.6"), allowing us to reach a spatial resolution of ~75 km on Ceres' surface. We do not find any spectral variation above a 3% level, suggesting a homogeneous surface at our spatial resolution. Slight variations (about 2%) of the spectral slope are detected, geographically correlated with the albedo markings reported from the analysis of the HST and Keck disk-resolved images of Ceres (Li et al., 2006, Icarus 182, 143; Carry et al., 2008, A&A 478, 235). Given the lack of constraints on the surface composition of Ceres, however, we cannot assert the causes of these variations.

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Title: Determination of Ceres mass based on the most gravitationally efficient close encounters
Authors: Andjelka B Kovacevic

Here is presented recalculated value of the mass of Ceres, based on explicit tracking of its gravitational influence on orbits evolution of 21 selected asteroids during their mutual close encounters (CE). It was applied a new modified method (MM) for mass determination, based on the connecting of pre-encounter observations to the orbit determined from post-encounter ones. The calculated weighted mean value of Ceres mass, based on modified method, is (4.54 0.07)\,10^{-10} solar masses while standard procedure (SM) provided result of (4.70 0.04)\,10^{-10} solar masses. We found that correlation between individual estimated masses based on modified and standard method is 0.78, which confirms reliability of using modified method.

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