It's unlikely that we'll ever get to personally visit all the fascinating locations in our Solar System, but NASA is great at bringing the joys of space to us. Today, the space agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory released an incredibly detailed color animation depicting what it would look like to fly over the dwarf planet Ceres. The video was made using images taken from NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which is currently in orbit around Ceres in the asteroid belt.
NASA is great at bringing the joys of space to us
The video is extra vibrant because Ceres is depicted in false color; that means the colors have been exaggerated to highlight the subtle differences in the materials on the dwarf planet's surface. The areas that shine blue are thought to be made of materials much younger than the rest of the surface. The video tour also takes viewers to Ceres' most famous attractions of craters and mountains, including the ultimate headliner: the huge bright crater named Occator. The origins of these bright spots are still a bit of a mystery, but scientists think that Occator and the other shiny areas are likely made out of some kind of salt.
The images used for this video were taken when Dawn was at an altitude of about 900 miles above Ceres. In late October, Dawn descended into its final orbit around the dwarf planet, just a mere 240 miles from the surface. That's where Dawn will remain for the rest of its mission life. In fact, the spacecraft is in such a stable orbit that it is expected to become a new permanent satellite of Ceres, circling the small world for many years to come.