NASA Asks You to Vote for the Most Likely Explanation for Ceres's White Spots

Friday, 19 June 2015 - 2:42PM
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Friday, 19 June 2015 - 2:42PM
NASA Asks You to Vote for the Most Likely Explanation for Ceres's White Spots
NASA continues to capture increasingly detailed images of those mysterious white spots on Ceres, but are still baffled as to what they actually are. Explanations range from salt deposits to volcanoes to ice, but essentially no one has any clue what they might be. Now, just for fun, NASA wants the public to vote on the most likely explanation for this enigmatic phenomenon, because apparently we know better than the top scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA Asks You to Vote for the Most Likely Explanation for Ceres's White Spots

Can you guess what's creating those unusual bright spots on Ceres? On March 6, NASA's Dawn spacecraft began orbiting Ceres, the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter," NASA writes on the voting page. "Even before the spacecraft arrived at the dwarf planet, images revealed mysterious bright spots that captivated scientists and observers alike. Until Dawn gets a closer look over the next few months, it's anyone's guess what those spots could be.

The choices are "volcano," "geyser," "rock," "ice," "salt deposit," and "other." "Other" is the most popular answer so far at 40%, which makes us think that people are either appropriately humble and have no idea or think that it's aliens. Of the concrete options, "ice" is the most popular, which makes sense, as scientists have most confidently asserted that the spots are likely "active ice," or subsurface ice that's warmed by the sun and cyclically explodes into a "cryovolcano."

But, that being said, salt deposits and geyser activity have both been bandied about as possibilities, so clearly we just don't know. Hence the (somewhat silly) vote.
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