Ceres Gets Weirder With More Bright Spots and Unexplained ‘Pyramid’

By Carl Engelking | June 22, 2015 12:34 pm
pyramid

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

If you thought Ceres’ spots were weird, wait until you see its mystifying ‘pyramid.’

Indeed, Ceres has intrigued NASA scientists and worked fringe UFO bloggers into a frenzy since the Dawn spacecraft arrived for a close-up of the dwarf planet in March. Upon arrival, Dawn imaged a cluster of bright spots in a crater; now, a pyramid towering over a flat landscape serves as the latest addition to Ceres’ scrapbook of oddities.

Scientists have plenty of questions about Ceres’ features, but will we get answers? Maybe.

Space Oddity

Right now, Dawn is in its second orbiting phase roughly 2,700 miles above Ceres, which has given us a closer look at the now famous bright spots. We now know there are even more spots than we initially saw in early images.

A closer look at those mysterious bright spots. (Credit:

A closer look at those mysterious bright spots. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

Scientists believe a highly reflective substance — ice or salt are leading contenders — is responsible for the spots, but they are still considering other options (a thriving alien metropolis is probably not one of them). Thankfully, Dawn is equipped with an infrared mapping spectrometer that can identify minerals based on the way they reflect light. As scientists get more images and data from Dawn, they’ll certainly learn more about the composition of those spots.

And That Pyramid

Dawn also photographed a pyramid-shaped landform in its latest crop of photographs. Based on visual evidence, the mountain rises roughly 3 miles into the sky, and it’s smack-dab in the middle of a relatively flat area on Ceres’ surface. This shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise: Ceres bears all the telltale signs ancient, and perhaps present, geologic activity. Ceres has scars on its surface that hint at ancient lava flows, landslides and collapsed structures.

Ceres’ story is only going to get more interesting. Dawn will continue to orbit 2,700 miles above the dwarf planet’s surface until June 30. Then, it will edge even closer, entering orbit at an altitude of 900 miles sometime in August.

When that time comes, it’s safe to say another strange chapter will be added to the book of Ceres.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: space exploration
ADVERTISEMENT
  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    1) is the slope near Ceres’ equator?
    2) is its gentle slope parallel to Ceres’ tangential spin?
    3) (1) + (2) = launch ramp.

    • William Dziekanowski

      It’s a Ball with not enough mass to decide where its equator would be… It’s anywhere , Its a ball.

      • Hollister David

        It has an axis of spin, north and south poles. So it has an equator.

        • dondehoff

          Hollister, I believe terms like North and South are only relative to our planet, as are “up and down”.

          • David Walker

            North and South are applied to the Martian and lunar poles, but they certainly are related to our North and South. Up and down are less relative. They usually use gravity as a reference (away from the center of mass is up), with the exceptions of charts (where up normally means increasing values) and local directions where up usually means north (at least in the U.S).
            Hollister has the right idea. If a body is spinning around a fixed axis it has two poles and an equator–regardless whether it is smaller than a pea or larger than Jupiter. But determining which pole is north may require an arbitrary decision.

          • http://hopsblog-hop.blogspot.com Hollister David

            Nope. There’s a Martian north pole and south pole. Saturn north pole and south pole, etc. In the neighborhood of Ceres, “down” is towards Ceres’
            center.

      • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

        DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201322905

        Discover joyfully excises my posts with their refereed literature references, preferring errant stupidity to error correction. Uncle Al says, “If you are not a subsidized victim, then you are a paying fool.”

      • dondehoff

        Bill, equator implies “equal distance from two points”—a ball could have an equator, if the ball was spinning in a fixed rotation in relation to “whatever”.

    • dondehoff

      “Uncle”, with that equation to be complete, there would have to be for more visual evidence. The laws of large numbers dictate with the millions if not billions of celestial bodies out there, a few could have that configuration, just by “chance”.

  • Klae A. Klevenger

    …. Pyramid? You mean a volcano….

  • http://www.lionsbrain.com/ Brian D. Evans

    Wow, fascinating!

  • One

    Isn’t it odd how all of the reports on this are using the term pyramid, almost as if the NASA press release said that. It’s clearly a cone with a circular base, not a pyramid. But pyramids dream up thoughts of ancient aliens, so more pop in the headline.

    • Mike Richardson

      Yep, everyone that still insists there’s a face on Mars will now be demanding that NASA quit covering up evidence of aliens on Ceres.

    • yours truly

      that’s just sloppy journalism. i think just about anyone who is serious about the ufo phenomenon will agree with you that the shape is most definitely not a pyramid.

  • Ed Lange

    Ceres: an artificially constructed spacecraft masquerading as a planetoid. Sadly, all life aboard has perished, and the lights are simply blazing on automatic.

    • Gary Ronan

      As normal no one followed the directive ” last one to leave the planet please turn out the light’s “

      • dondehoff

        Gary, chuckle, chuckle!

    • Lynn Carroll

      LOL!!!

    • Lorie Franceschi

      something went wrong with their computer programing…it should have sensed that there were no living beings in the spacecraft and turned the lights out it self.

    • dondehoff

      Ed, pray tell, where did all of the “material” to make that spacecraft come from?

      • Ed Lange

        Other asteroids, of course. What a big silly!

  • finny21

    It’s a mountain/cone, not a pyramid. You all know the difference and intentionally mischaracterize to hype interest in a literal pile of dust. This is worse than the blueberries on Mars, and really does alot to convince people NASA is a waste of money. Enough!!

  • jef.morgan

    I want to see those “lights” when the sun isn’t shining there – what do we see then? These supposed reflections don’t look like reflections, but look like a light source… which is very perplexing… I am reminded from “Alien Interview” that the surviving Grey from the Rozwell crash communicated that their people had a base of operations in the Asteroid Belt… what better place than the largest orb, Ceres? Is THIS how Earth discovers we’re not alone?

    • Neil W

      You make a good point, why do we never see images of the dark side, also why do we never see images of the dark side (which get’s as much light as the side we see) of the moon? The mind boggles.

      • cynic44

        maybe because you never looked for them? http earthsky org/space/dark-side-of-the-moon-mystery-solved

        • Neil W

          Wow, a single far view composite. I’m so impressed, where are the high res images they have? Just like everything else with NASA, they expect us to accept doctored poor quality images in this day and age. Perhaps the images captured by Clementine, they may be old but surely they are better than the parp we get even today, mind you, that would probably be because that was a military funded project. I wonder why that was? What tactical interest would they have on the far side of the moon?

          • dandelany

            There are many more, extremely high resolution photos if you bothered to look, including several huge 1GB TIF files taken by LRO just a few years ago. I have tried to post links to them twice now, but apparently this blog blocks links in comments, which is ridiculous. But you can find them if you google “LRO far side moon” (without quotes). Google “apollo 16 far side high resolution” to see some more taken by the Apollo 16 crew.

    • William Bennett

      What never seems to get mentioned is that the photo that keeps getting used for this is enhanced to make the patches more visible. They’re definitely there, but the enhancement considerably exaggerates how they look. There is an unenhanced version around but it takes some finding. You can still see them but they don’t look like a pair of headlights, the way they do here.

    • Akinzeride

      The lights shine even while the sun isn’t shining on them. Set aside your “conspiracy astronomer” bias (if you have any) and check out some youtube videos. One of the first videos released showed Ceres in rotation and the lights did not change in luminosity what so ever. It’s possible whatever substance is outputting the light absorbs it or is itself the source of the light, such as volcanic activity.

    • Lorie Franceschi

      Reflections of the Sun off of the Dawn Spacecraft. Must be either that or they forgot to turn the lights off when Dawn got there.

  • Marcel Koemans

    it’s a peace of rock from the kuiperbelt what slamed into the surface if u look close enought there is a simular rock above it u see no impact crater

  • dandelany

    You should be ashamed of this blatantly clickbaity headline. I’ve been a fan of Discover in the past but really, “Unexplained Pyramid”? I used to associate Discover Magazine with things like Nature and Science, now it seems a lot more like a nerdier Buzzfeed. Don’t stoop to this level, please, real science is interesting enough as is. You don’t have to make stuff up.

    • yours truly

      i could not have said it better myself.

    • claysdaze

      If it gets more clicks it get more funding, and it gets more readers; we don’t people already interested in science being the only ones reading it

      • dandelany

        It gets more readers who are misinformed and believe in conspiracy theories, & further misinforms them because they scan the article and think “WHOA NASA found a PYRAMID!”. A science magazine that deceives its readers is not deserving of more funding.

        • Gordon Walts Jr.

          Stupid people will believe anything, about science, religion, politics. Always have, always will.

          • James Kalbfell

            Okay, let me get this straight. If “Stupid people will believe anything, about science, religion, politics.”? Then by simple reasoning, intelligent people won’t believe anything about science, religion, or politics. This would lead one to believe that stupid people are intelligent and intelligent people are stupid. This would hold true seeing as how the intellectual would not only believe in nothing but, most likely, would know nothing.

            Which one are you?

          • Arrilla Krutsinger

            In fair reasoning the term stupid people shouldn’t even apply… Alot of people thought Benjamin Franklin was crazy an stupid just bc he had an idea of creating electricity, an he did care he kept trying an guess what that stupid person made it… I’m just saying if people want to believe in aliens and a pyramid on another planet let them they could be right, just bc someone’s very smart doesn’t mean they may not be wrong there’s still alot of stuff we as humans don’t know an if it wasn’t for our ideas an imagination an sense of adventure we’d still be listening to people who think there smart an believe the world is flat just bc those people are “scientific specialists” I’m not trying to argue with you I’m just saying there’s alot of stuff in this universe we don’t know an I for one hope there is life out there bc to me with humans being the only living intellectual beings it would be pretty dull, if we could find aliens or other species other then our own an they were friendly think of all the stuff we teach eachother… We could help better eachother existences

        • Zanniletii

          I’d like to think that ‘most’ people are smarter than that. At least, the ones who READ are.

          • dondehoff

            “Zan……”, but just what are they reading? That material must come form from some of those “stupid ” people being referred to. Read my lay-person’s approach to the weather and see if it makes sense.

        • Lynn Carroll

          Dandelany, you are so right. I think that cheap “yellow journalism” is not the place for scientist whose paychecks most likely come from the government.

    • Friz Martin

      Nothing wrong with having a little fun in life. Well, for most people anyway. I really don’t think many people who come here were seriously contemplating actual pyramids. Seems to me to be a sarcastic reference to “others” at best.

      • Ventura Rodriguez Vallejo

        You’re right, indeed. Actually I haven’t conclude, after reading the article, that Discovery is trying to speak anything about “UFOs”, “aliens” and the like. On the contrary, it’s quite clear that those pseudoscientific points are treated with a healthy and distanciating sense of humor.

        • edith_jones3
    • fartsmith

      To be fair, they put “pyramid” in quote marks.

    • Maia

      Lots of the articles here lately remind me of the sleezy tone of scandal sheet science, especially those pushing drones right next to an ad for them. This is not an argument against “fun”, but against trashy and superficial. Notice the frequent use of “mysterious” and “weird”. That’s a clue.

      • Ventura Rodriguez Vallejo

        May I remind you that positive sciences are all about to explain rationally what previously seems to be “mysterious” and “weird”?

        • Maia

          Ventura, I respect real mysteries and oddness, but over-using certain words and phrases as bait for an article which often turns out to be the opposite of what the title implies. In advertising that is called “bait and switch”. Real science doesn’t have to do that. Just the simple truth, please, no gimmicks.
          The more a magazine/journal succumbs to “sexy” and even misileading headliners, the less respect it will garner from those with a genuine interest in science news.
          I also question cutesy titles and frequent punning, which feels like a rather desperate attempt to make science seem more interesting/fun, as though we were all terrified of a straight-talking article.
          Oh, and I disagree that science is “about to explain rationally” what has been and still is truly mysterious. Some yes, some no. Popular science is always promising us that, and always discovering larger and larger areas of “dark knowledge” . 😉

    • krell51

      What did you expect from people still pushing the global warming hoax in spite of no warming for 17 years and the growing list of academics getting caught faking data!

      • rrocklin

        Obviously you have not kept up with the science and stick to your denial religion.

      • dondehoff

        “kre…..’, let us not get too carried away. I have personally flown over our “Glacier National Park” in the NW. It now has but about two dozen glaciers but when it was named, it had over 120. I have seen credible reports that similar but even more drastic glacier problems are occurring in the Hylmilayian Mountains, which provides water to several countries. I hear those countries are massing troops to protect their share of the now very limited water supply. Right here in Colorado , where I live, as a kid, there was a St Mary’s Glacier. It is now known as an “ice field”. History also reveals many glaciers existed in all of North America and Russia, down through the New York Area and the Great Lakes. With the oceans occupying most of the planet, it does not take but a small fraction of a single degree of warming to increase the humidity in the sky, which, in turn creates more clouds and in turn again, more thunderstorms, all interrelated to cause our well known unpredictable long range weather forecasts. Our short range forecasts are now much better in that we just look, at the approaching weather several hundred miles away, via satellites. Also, while I hear very little about it, the mere fact we now have billions of people on this planet and uncountable other warm blooded animals, must contribute to the warming of the planet. Ditto for all of the agriculture and removal of forests, which enables the Sun to reach the Earth—Also, since 1880 there has been a recordable slight overall warming, but that took enormous amounts of widespread change to accomplish that small increase.

    • Joseph Tade

      I agree completely. …science is so very interesting without “pretend time”…. Lets all be what we are capable of and aspire to…learn. From true science
      The truth can be measured.

  • Roberto Desantos

    It is a mere new born volcano that is about to spit off its molten metallic larva

  • Matt Sapero

    Just relax and let’s see what we can as the craft gets closer to Ceres. There are literally hundreds of billions of potentially habitable planets and moons in our galaxy. So, why is everyone so sure that we won’t find the remnants left by another civilization, perhaps one as interested in mining the asteroid belt as many from Earth are today?

  • Arttai

    I think they will have to get even closer instead of going to another mini star. UFOlogists knew for a long time that Ceres is an important alien base, the closer Dawn gets the more there is to learn about it.

  • Rajendra Rao

    Ceres is getting more & more interesting & amazing..first those bright spots now the finding of pyramid..there could be more pyramids across the solar system, since its here on earth and there are on mars as per reports now on ceres.hope that there are more authentic information are given out so the entire world knows it.

  • http://www.librarything.com/profile/Bretzky1 Brett Champion

    It looks more like a zit than a pyramid.

  • sangos

    Shiny Megatron poop?…guess the cone would be his base would have good sanitation then

  • Lee Chapman

    NASA may be on s shoestring budget, but is still kicking cans!!

  • George Sanders

    If you bothered to go to the NASA website you would have seen that they used “pyramid shaped.” It is you’all making the weird connection, not NASA, not Discover. You are attacking your own presumptions. Relax.

    • dandelany

      NASA says “pyramid-shaped peak”, Discover says “its mystifying pyramid” and “a pyramid towering over a flat landscape”.

      If I said I had an “ear-shaped birthmark on my back” and you wrote an article about “the guy with a mystifying ear on his back”, would that be a fair representation?

    • Akinzeride

      Bingo. Nice to see someone with a level head although you look pretty scary.

  • Dave H

    Surely the most interesting thing in the picture is not the mountain, but the carved channel to the left and up from the mountain. its a parallel sided channel with a crater at each end. What could of caused this? It looks like an electric discharge machined feature with a dwell at each end.
    It looks relatively new, but there are many more scars on the surface which are less prominent, is there dust on the surface obscuring some of the features?
    Any other theories?

  • Dave H

    The mountain is not the most surprising geological feature in this photo. To the left and up from the mountain, is a carved channel in the ground with a crater at each end. This feature is larger than the mountain.
    More importantly how did it form? It looks like a an electronically discharged machined groove with a dwell at each end, it also looks relatively new when compared to other grooves visible in the shot. It also has white spots in one of the craters.
    does anyone have any theories as to how it has formed?

  • CeceliaMGast

    sdds

  • George Sanders

    The science of it is that it is an unexplained pyramid. It’s texture if relatively smooth compared to the surrounding terrain. That doesn’t make it an alien artifact. Again, inferences are your concern, not the science of it.

    • Akinzeride

      It is probably a Volcano . Those lights are probably volcanic activity. Or some substance which absorbs light. In the first video release of Ceres in rotation clearly showed those light not losing any luminosity what so ever as it rotated to the dark side of Ceres.

  • Steven Diedesch

    It looks more like a nipple than a pyramid.

    Mind, I’m not necessarily disappointed.

  • ThomasEPalmer

    sasass

  • Dave H

    The pyramid is good, but whats that deep groove with a crater at each end, just to the left and above the mountain.
    Any ideas how thatformed/

  • Akinzeride

    It’s a volcano. The lights are foreign volcanic activity. There are no aliens within our galaxy.

    • jef.morgan

      Wow. No Aliens within our Milky Way? And you know this, How?

  • http://facebook.com/robbiejena Robbie Jena

    As they say – The Pyramids are usually real or fake large space ships…meaning, long ago when there was interstellar war…it was fake to tell that it is a real ship…so, who knows…a real space ship as a camping unit…just go there or send a robot and find out…

  • Eva Ramey

    That’s no dwarf planet..I mean moon…that’s a space station. The empire probably already knows we’re here. LOL

  • John Pollard

    The lights are still a mystery, the “pyramid” looks a lot like a volcano. Any news about this alien world is still of interest to me.

  • Captain Slog

    I hate to pop anyone’s over imaginative and egotistical bubble, BUT, me in all my Innocence imagined that this “Pyramid” could be a large CUBIC or other shaped Rock or Metal LUMP of something, which many Thousands or Millions of years ago, either smashed into Ceres or was already there, as Ceres former existence as a Planet, which got by destroyed by some very Ancient Celestial Event, left it EXPOSED for us to find.
    Looking at it another way, and it also makes sense. Perhaps it IS a Stop Over Point for Travelers on their way to Luna Far Side, which is also the MAIN Stop Over Point and BASE for Star Travelers, some of whom just MAY be our Visitors.
    Remember! WE aren’t the only ones Exploring Space!! Just as WE are looking out there and going to the far edges of our Solar System, THEY are coming here and have actually FOUND us. But, WE are just too UN-WORTHY of Contact because of our violent and very IGNORANT Past and Present. Just LOOK at the filthy mess this Planet is in!! WE should be well and truly AHSAMED of ourselves. We’re a BLOODY DISGRACE!!
    Put it this way. IF we ever made it to Mars, and discovered that Mars was exactly like Terra [HERE for those who are really ignorant!], would YOU sign up to that up and coming Mars Mission that everyone seems to be signing up for? I bloody wouldn’t, THAT’S for sure.
    FORGET your Primitive and stupid religions, superstitions and other ignorant ways of thinking, especially all the cover-ups by NASA and other US organisations who try to mislead the world!! USE your Logical Mind to LOOK out there and use Common Sense!!
    Ceres is, YES, a Rock. The BIGGEST Piece, perhaps, of a long destroyed Planet that as a result, formed the Asteroid Belt. It no doubt got its round shape from the fact it is Probably THE CORE of this old munted Planet, or, as a result of being bashed about by whatever left all those craters all over it. In fact, the suggestion that it COULD be the Core of this old munted Planet, popped into my mind as I got to the word “Shape” in the above sentence. My Mind was analysing all this as I was writing.
    I am very curious about what may be on this Asteroid, and its make up, and just as curious about the REST of the Asteroid Belt. IF, one day, we go out there to Mine it for its Rare Metals, Minerals, etc., what we find out there will be VERY EXCITING!!
    By the way, WHAT is so “wrong” with saying PYRAMID? Its a SHAPE! That’s why I mentioned CUBIC. It could be a very IMMENSE Cube shaped lump of DIAMOND [for all the jews out there] or Metal. We don’t even KNOW what goes on inside our OWN Planet, never mind WHAT is one that got destroyed.
    Also, looking at many of the comments on this page, people are firing off each others comments and getting even more MENTAL with the stupid things they say to out do each other with ignorance and perhaps just simply BULLYING, or to get attention.
    You’re all “ADULTS” or should be. Behave yourselves!!
    Damned Wuck Fits!!

  • ENKI

    Too bad Zecharia Sitchin isn’t alive to see this! :)

  • LD1960

    Yes “pyramid” is am inaccurate discription and is clearly a hook to assist in realing in readers . The work mound, cone or even mountain would have been more appropriate. However to their defense they need funding and interest at they have to compete with the vacuity of the Kardashian mounds ….

  • Lorrene Baum-Davis

    Ice, salt? So tell me, how can it reflect light from the dark side of the dwarf planet? If you watch it rotate the lights do NOT lose their luminosity as it enters it’s ‘night’ phase. This is terribly exciting. I was thinking that there could be a really thick ice layer and a molten core. If so then maybe that is why it is just as bright in the dark phase… unless, of course there is some light being reflected back by something else. Go Figure.

  • ᔕᗩᘐᙓ ᗪᗴᒪᓮᖇᓰᘎᙢ

    I find it interesting that all the craters are hexagons and not circles, Is this normal, or unique to the composition of Ceres?

  • sumatra

    the bright spots could be Mercury maybe, the Pyramid, Volcano? or just a Mountain

  • K.E.Winkler

    Where is the scientific analysis?
    Where is the supporting data?
    Where is the comparison to know cosmic entities of similar nature?
    Or is it all about “ooh and aah”?

  • Walter Tonon Jr.

    Where are the boundaries of the crater?
    This pyramid should be in the center of the crater.

  • Luke101

    Damn!, I told Garth to turn off the lights , before we took off….

  • Pooky Amsterdam

    This pyramid shaped mountain that rises 3 miles into the sky is interesting, and…………..unexplained

  • john vaughan

    Every author uses a tone in his writing. It makes sense, as Maia points out, to use an objective tone for popular science. Why?

    Because objectivity adds credence!

    If the writer’s main purpose is to entertain, then sexy terms make sense. If the writer’s main purpose is to “Discover”, then, the reader assumes the writer *wants* to be believed!

    However, use of grandiose, eye-catching language tends to destroy credence. I guess the real question is whether the writer wants to be believed *more* than he wants to entertain?

    To me, the entertainment aspect is patronizing…but not so much, as to destroy all credibility. Bottom line: Tone it back about 3 little notches so we don’t feel like 3rd graders being patronized.

    Sincerely, John

  • bwana

    Aw, leave the poor aliens alone… Enough spying on them!

  • Leo

    Why don’t they show pics of ceres as they do pluto ? Pluto pics are really clear and the details you can see but not ceres pic . Why is that.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+