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New NASA animation offers colorful flight over Ceres

Animators spotlighted several of Ceres' most significant features, including its Occator crater and the mountain Ahuna Mo.
By Brooks Hays   |   Jan. 29, 2016 at 3:20 PM

PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A new video from NASA simulates a Ceres flyover, all with a splash of color.

The animation was pieced together using images collected by the agency's Dawn spacecraft. The video's added color helps the dwarf planet's surface features stand out, while the touches of blue illuminate the positions of younger geologic materials.

Animators spotlighted several of Ceres' most significant features, including its Occator crater and the mountain Ahuna Mo.

The Dawn mission is headquartered at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but involves scientists Italy and Germany -- including the German Aerospace Center, or DLR, Max Planck Institute, Italian Space Agency and Italian National Astrophysical Institute.

"The simulated overflight shows the wide range of crater shapes that we have encountered on Ceres," Ralf Jaumann, a Dawn mission scientist at DLR, said in a NASA news update. "The viewer can observe the sheer walls of the crater Occator, and also Dantu and Yalode, where the craters are a lot flatter."

Imagery included in the video was collected during Dawn's high-altitude mapping mission, between August and October 2015. During that time, the probe circled Ceres at a height of 900 miles. Dawn is now mapping the dwarf planet at a much lower altitude.

The probe first launched in 2007 and has alternated exploration of Ceres and Vesta, two of the largest known protoplanets in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

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