As a NASA spacecraft approaches a dwarf planet in our solar system, scientists are stumped by what appear to be two bright lights shining from its surface.
NASA's unmanned Dawn craft is on its way toward Ceres, which, as the largest body in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is officially categorized as a dwarf planet. With the vessel 29,000 miles away on Feb. 19, it snapped a picture of Ceres' surface -- and revealed a mystery.
Two bright lights seem to be shining out from a basin on Ceres' highly cratered surface. Scientists had previously spotted one of the lights in earlier images, but now the closer photos clearly show two such spots.
Andreas Nathues, lead investigator for the camera team at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, said in a NASA statement, "This is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us. The brightest spot (of the two) continues to be too small to resolve with our camera, but despite its size it is brighter than anything else on Ceres." (The image below was sent back earlier from Dawn.)