NASA captures close-up of dwarf planet Ceres

Washington: An image of Ceres, clicked by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft on May 23, shows the finer details of the dwarf planet.

Ceres is the largest object in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter.

The spacecraft clicked the image at a distance of 5,100 km with a resolution of 480 meters per pixel and the image is part of a sequence taken for navigational purposes.

According to NASA, Dawn spacecraft is now using its ion engine to move closer to the dwarf planet in its bid to map the planet and collecting data.

The new orbit will bring Dawn to about 4,400 km from Ceres when it reaches that orbit on June 3, NASA said.

Though the image does not shed light on the origin of the bright spots located in another crater on Ceres, scientists expect to learn more about the mysterious reflective patches.

Some scientists have suggested that the bright spots are caused by ice deposits, but NASA wants suggestions from the public about the origin of the bright spots.

NASA is asking people to vote for their favourite explanations for the bright spots in an online poll.