In April of 2015, the NASA Dawn Spacecraft began transmitting new, close-up images of the mysterious dwarf planet Ceres. The images to date have only deepened the mystery surrounding the puzzling bright spots on the planet’s surface. However, in addition to this ongoing puzzle, questions remain about Ceres that planetary scientists seem unready to ask. The surface of Ceres is massively cratered, with a variety of types of craters, including so-called bulls-eye craters (craters with central craters), craters with central peaks, and weird hexagonal craters, such as those seen on Mars, Mercury, and the Saturnian moon Mimas. Dawn’s exploration of Ceres is a startling reminder of just how inadequately the modern theory of planetary cratering explains what we actually see on planets and moons.
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