Stunning footage emerges of something weird on Ceres [VIDEO]

Stunning footage emerges of something weird on Ceres [VIDEO]

New images from Ceres show what looks like a giant stop sign for approaching spacecraft.

A bizarre, super-bright crater on the surface of Ceres has been captured in a series of images that make it look like a big warning against approaching spacecraft.

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has been orbiting the dwarf planet for more than a year now, and the latest images it has sent back depict a 21-mile-wide crater that looks oddly like a stop sign, according to a NASA statement.

The polygonal shape of the crater, called Haulani Crater, is what interests scientists the most, as most craters elsewhere — including those on Earth — are circular and rarely ever have straight lines like the one seen in these photos.

The crater appears to be from a fresh impact on Ceres’ surface, scientists believe: the crater floor doesn’t seem to have any new impacts, and its color is very different from the rest of the surface. There also appears to be evidence of landslides at Haulani’s rim.

Ceres, which is 590 miles wide, is the largest object in the main asteroid belt that sits between Mars and Jupiter. It first arrived in orbit around Ceres in March 2015 after departing another dwarf planet, Vesta.

Dawn has spent those 13 months studying Ceres. It reached its final orbit just 240 miles from the surface of the dwarf planet in December.

“Haulani perfectly displays the properties we would expect from a fresh impact into the surface of Ceres. The crater floor is largely free of impacts, and it contrasts sharply in color from older parts of the surface,” Martin Hoffmann, co-investigator on the Dawn framing camera team, based at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen, Germany, said in the NASA statement.

It’s not the only crater NASA is studying on the dwarf planet. Scientists are also looking at the unique Oxo Crater.

“A hidden treasure on Ceres is the 6-mile-wide (10-kilometer-wide) Oxo Crater, which is the second-brightest feature on Ceres (only Occator’s central area is brighter),” the statement reads. “Oxo lies near the 0 degree meridian that defines the edge of many Ceres maps, making this small feature easy to overlook. Oxo is also unique because of the relatively large ‘slump’ in its crater rim, where a mass of material has dropped below the surface. Dawn science team members are also examining the signatures of minerals on the crater floor, which appear different than elsewhere on Ceres.”

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