Hey Ceres? There's something on your surface!
February 25, 2015 7:47 PM   Subscribe

There's an odd bright spot on the dwarf planet Ceres. Scratch that, there's actually two bright spots on the its surface. Cue speculation as the Dawn spacecraft prepares to orbit Ceres.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (51 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Aw, it's waking up!
posted by bwerdmuller at 7:54 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's my soul up there.
posted by yhbc at 7:59 PM on February 25, 2015 [16 favorites]


Ghroth!
posted by Artw at 8:09 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the station.
posted by notme at 8:10 PM on February 25, 2015 [60 favorites]


I'm hoping for alien civilization, but I'll settle for ice.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 8:20 PM on February 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


notme is close...
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:22 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's my soul up there.

Impossible, it's not the same old thing as yesterday.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:41 PM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's a small thermal exhaust port, right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should destroy the station.

I think you're thinking of Mimas.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:50 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Viral marketing for SyFy's new series The Expanse?
posted by eyeballkid at 8:53 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think you're thinking of Voga.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:55 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


The patch is Ceres new hydroponics lab producing tasty edibles for gentile mercantile Supernauts traversing the Oort Cloud in search of dilithium shards which may or may not be the left Molar of Gene Roddenberry.

I suspect Qvark.
posted by clavdivs at 9:34 PM on February 25, 2015


It's a mountain of gold to double the world's supply overnight. Billionaire venture funds will race haul it back to Earth in exchange for the one true stable currency: MetaFilter favorites.
posted by pwnguin at 9:42 PM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Wait, Ceres? I thought the mass effect relay was supposed to be on Charon?
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:53 PM on February 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


"You've got redbright on you"
posted by russm at 10:15 PM on February 25, 2015


Ok, so the simplest explanation is a reflection of light. Sunlight? But that just leads to the question why is the light suddenly brighter than before. Other than that...volcanoes? Can dwarf planets have volcanoes?

Other than that...I, for one, welcome our Ceresian overlords.
posted by zardoz at 10:29 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


On the pictures it looks really bright. Like I clicked the link expecting to be underwhelmed but then I was like "Wow, that is like really bright!" And then I felt kind of scared for some unknown reason. Weird stuff.
posted by Literaryhero at 10:53 PM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Goddamit! They told me the lair was gonna be secret!
posted by From Bklyn at 10:54 PM on February 25, 2015


Also, couldn't we have at least one or two links to horrible fear mongering speculation?

It is obvious to me that we have awoken one of the elder gods and we should be thankful that it is on another planet.
posted by Literaryhero at 10:58 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Allow me to quote one of the most beautiful passages in all of science fiction:
Nearly a hundred thousand million stars are turning in the circle of the Milky Way, and long ago other races on the worlds of other suns must have scaled and passed the heights that we have reached. Think of such civilizations, far back in time against the fading afterglow of Creation, masters of a universe so young that life as yet had come only to a handful of worlds. Theirs would have been a loneliness we cannot imagine, the loneliness of gods looking out across infinity and finding none to share their thoughts.

They must have searched the star-clusters as we have searched the planets. Everywhere there would be worlds, but they would be empty or peopled with crawling, mindless things. Such was our own Earth, the smoke of the great volcanoes still staining the skies, when that first ship of the peoples of the dawn came sliding in from the abyss beyond Pluto. It passed the frozen outer worlds, knowing that life could play no part in their destinies. It came to rest among the inner planets, warming themselves around the fire of the Sun and waiting for their stories to begin.

Those wanderers must have looked on Earth, circling safely in the narrow zone between fire and ice, and must have guessed that it was the favorite of the Sun’s children. Here, in the distant future, would be intelligence; but there were countless stars before them still, and they might never come this way again.

So they left a sentinel, one of millions they have scattered throughout the Universe, watching over all worlds with the promise of life. It was a beacon that down the ages has been patiently signaling the fact that no one had discovered it.

Perhaps you understand now why that crystal pyramid was set upon the Moon instead of on the Earth. Its builders were not concerned with races still struggling up from savagery. They would be interested in our civilization only if we proved our fitness to survive by crossing space and so escaping from the Earth, our cradle. That is the challenge that all intelligent races must meet, sooner or later. It is a double challenge, for it depends in turn upon the conquest of atomic energy and the last choice between life and death.

Once we had passed that crisis, it was only a matter of time before we found the pyramid and forced it open. Now its signals have ceased, and those whose duty it is will be turning their minds upon Earth. Perhaps they wish to help our infant civilization. But they must be very, very old, and the old are often insanely jealous of the young.

I can never look now at the Milky Way without wondering from which of those banked clouds of stars the emissaries are coming. If you will pardon so commonplace a simile, we have set off the fire alarm and have nothing to do but to wait.

I do not think we will have to wait for long.

[from Arthur C. Clarke's "The Sentinel"]
Of course, it'll probably just end up being a shiny rock.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:15 PM on February 25, 2015 [36 favorites]


What if, it's actually just the rest of the planet getting darker somehow, and it only appears bright in contrast...
posted by Brocktoon at 11:22 PM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a genuine mystery. Exciting!
posted by Kevin Street at 12:18 AM on February 26, 2015


It's a hot tub!
posted by clavdivs at 12:19 AM on February 26, 2015


Calm down, folks. It's a bro with a laser pointer.
posted by maxwelton at 12:34 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying it was aliens
posted by klangklangston at 12:51 AM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


@general Lmboh, metavector Oortcloud>in the pipe 5x5. Fanks!
posted by clavdivs at 1:22 AM on February 26, 2015


Quality control
posted by TedW at 1:43 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


But that just leads to the question why is the light suddenly brighter than before.

Is it? I just thought we're now close enough to see it for the first time. Where are you reading that the light is suddenly brighter?

(Please be shiny ancient alien ruins please oh please)
posted by mediareport at 1:45 AM on February 26, 2015


(Hops in retrofitted B-29, requests Tex to sing anything by Patsy Cline)

"Cap'um, let's check them light's, plural like and with a vers'fyin grace"
posted by clavdivs at 2:09 AM on February 26, 2015


Nothing to get excited about, I'm sure once their done targeting shooting at Ceres they'll move on to a different galaxy.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:56 AM on February 26, 2015


There is something unexpectedly exciting and wonderful with the discovery of these two bright spots. It'll probably turn out to be something relatively innocent, something that makes you go "huh, interesting" and then you move on.

But damn if the universe doesn't throw up some fantastic stuff at times. "Oh, you thought a single bright spot was mysterious? Look closer, you inelegant apes and clear space for having your mind blown."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:25 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


But that just leads to the question why is the light suddenly brighter than before.

Is it? I just thought we're now close enough to see it for the first time. Where are you reading that the light is suddenly brighter?

(Please be shiny ancient alien ruins please oh please)
posted by mediareport at 4:45 AM on February 26 [+] [!]


We've known about the shiny spot for a little while now. (The second spot however is a surprise.) It's my understanding that the spot is reflecting a larger percentage of sunlight than previously believed. It could be that we were just too far away using equipment that was too underpowered with too much interference and that it's always reflected this much light. It's also possible that it will appear brighter to Dawn as it approaches. In which case, it's probably ice "volcanoes".
posted by dances with hamsters at 4:34 AM on February 26, 2015




That's just where they cut the sprue off the model.
posted by eriko at 5:20 AM on February 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


Phil Plait: Ceres shiny spot is actually twins
posted by jazon at 7:04 AM on February 26, 2015


Shit! I forgot to turn off the lights again!
posted by Jughead at 7:11 AM on February 26, 2015


ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT CERES

ATTEMPT NO LANDINGS THERE
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 8:10 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Looks like the GCV Steely Glint to me.
posted by w0mbat at 8:29 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS

BUT BEFORE LANDING, CHECK YOUR APPEARANCE IN THE MIRRORS ON CERES
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:58 AM on February 26, 2015


The spots are the eyes.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 9:06 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a hot tub!

Celebrity Mi-Go Hot Tub!
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:34 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Most likely just ice. Please note theat Ceres, Dawn, and Earth all move relative to the sun, so the brightness will appear to change depending on angle, distance, etc.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:42 AM on February 26, 2015


Man, can we have just one thread on MeFi that doesn't bring up heliocentrism?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:54 AM on February 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Two spots?

Breeding season.
posted by dglynn at 9:57 AM on February 26, 2015


Man, can we have just one thread on MeFi that doesn't bring up heliocentrism?

I concur. But Ptolemaic geocentrism is not the answer. A more comprehensive system should include Mars-centrism, Jupiter-centrism, etc. I have even dabbled in Phobos and Deimos-centrism.

I am actually not kidding.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:33 AM on February 26, 2015


Most likely just ice.

SQUAMOUS ELDRITCH NON-EUCLIDEAN ICE COTERMINOUS WITH ALL SPACE AND TIME

c'mon throw us a bone here
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:34 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Although not as actively discussed as a potential home for extraterrestrial life as Mars, Titan or Europa, the presence of water ice has led to speculation that life may exist there,[65][66][67] and that hypothesized ejecta could have come from Ceres to Earth."

The wheat/chaff theory.
posted by clavdivs at 1:11 PM on February 26, 2015


It probably is ice because ice is shiny and Ceres is icy, and it's probably volcanic because we've already spotted probable plumes of water vapour. Also, it'll stand out because Ceres has a very low albedo, roughly that of coal.

But it's still mysterious, because how can there be stuff happening on a small cold lonely lump of icy rock that should have cooled off long ago?

Alternatively - we've stumbled across the last work of Disco Aliens who died off just after starting work on the Best Mirrorball Ever. Or perhaps the show just got cancelled, and we'll never get Ceres 2.
posted by Devonian at 2:59 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hope this is a plot by some billionaire to unite humankind with the discovery of a mysterious alien threat.
posted by humanfont at 3:21 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]




So... I'm planetary geologist and I look at images like this for a living...

I think these are probably (and boringly) locations of bright clean ice standing out against the dusty surface of Ceres. Other people speculate that they might be volcanoes but nobody has ever found an "ice volcano" so I think it's unlikely.

The sad thing is that scientists often "stretch" images (to enhance contrast) in press releases, and that is what is happened here. Here's a great post about it from Emily Lakdawalla: http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2015/02251857-ceres-geology.html
posted by amy27 at 2:26 AM on February 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


That's a great link, amy27, thanks. Tons of neat info (as usual from Lakdawalla), but I really like the part where she talks about "one crater on Ceres that made my jaw drop."
posted by mediareport at 5:33 AM on February 27, 2015


« Older This Is Not Happening   |   The Slurpee Waves of Nantucket Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments