NASA spacecraft sends new images of Ceres' mysterious conical mountain

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NASA Spacecraft Sends New Images Of Ceres' Mysterious Conical Mountain

Months ago, NASA's Dawn spacecraft began capturing images of Ceres, and among the many intriguing surface features it has discovered is a rather mysterious conical mountain.

The agency announced that the craft is now at an orbital altitude of a bit over 900 miles, and has sent surface images that are the sharpest to date.

Among the many geological formations captured in great detail is the oddly shaped elevation, which measures about 3 miles from ground to tip.

Researchers have yet to determine many specifics about the mountain.

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NASA spacecraft sends new images of Ceres' mysterious conical mountain
This image, made using images taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft, shows Occator crater on Ceres, home to a collection of intriguing bright spots. (Photo via NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)
NASA's Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers). The mountain, located in the southern hemisphere, stands 4 miles (6 kilometers) high. Its perimeter is sharply defined, with almost no accumulated debris at the base of the brightly streaked slope.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
The intriguing brightest spots on Ceres lie in a crater named Occator, which is about 60 miles (90 kilometers) across and 2 miles (4 kilometers) deep.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/LPI
NASA's Dawn spacecraft took this image that shows a mountain ridge, near lower left, that lies in the center of Urvara crater on Ceres.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

NASA's Dawn Spacecraft took this image of Gaue crater, the large crater on the bottom, on Ceres. Gaue is a Germanic goddess to whom offerings are made in harvesting rye.

(Photo via NASA)

This Feb. 19, 2015 image shows the swarf planet Ceres provided by NASA, taken by the agency's Dawn spacecraft from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin, seen at center of the image. Dawn is preparing to rendezvous with the largest object in the asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter, scheduled to go into orbit Friday, March 7 after a three-year journey. Dawn is about 590 miles (950 kilometers) in diameter. (AP Photo/NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)
This March 1, 2015 photo provided by NASA shows Ceres is seen from NASA's Dawn spacecraft just a few days before the mission achieved orbit around the previously unexplored dwarf planet to begin a 16-month exploration. The image was taken at a distance of about 30,000 miles. (AP Photo/NASA)
Robert Mase, right, project manager for the Dawn mission at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, speaks at news conference, with Carol Raymond, deputy project scientist at JPL, left, at JPL in Pasadena on Monday, March 2, 2015. NASA's Dawn spacecraft is scheduled to slip into orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres on Friday, the last stop in a nearly eight-year journey. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Robert Mase, project manager for the Dawn mission at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, speaks at news conference at JPL in Pasadena on Monday, March 2, 2015. NASA's Dawn spacecraft is scheduled to slip into orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres on Friday, the last stop in a nearly eight-year journey. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
This morning, our @NASA_Dawn mission arrives at the dwarf planet #Ceres: http://t.co/49tIUjqOj2 http://t.co/bFHlRte7Nj
Dawn robotic spacecraft next to Ceres and Vesta, members of the asteroid belt, to study them in space. - Elements of this image furnished by NASA
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Among Dawn's numerous tasks is to take images of the entire dwarf planet, which will be used to create a 3D model of Ceres' surface.

The craft is also using its infrared mapping spectrometer to gather information about the minerals that comprise Ceres' surface.

It takes 11 days for Dawn to cover the entire area, during which time it orbits the celestial body about 14 times.

In October, Dawn will make an even closer approach, descending until it is a mere 230 miles above Ceres.

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