NASA released a beautiful new video that shows a fly-by of the dwarf planet Ceres, so if you came here hoping for a video on the Danish beer named Ceres, you’re out of luck. This is however much better and shows a very close fly-by of this tiny planetary object. The new video is composed out of images made with NASA’s Dawn spacecraft and the simulated flyover was made by the mission’s camera team at Germany’s national aeronautics and space research center.
Before any of the conspiracy theorists come out and try to tell that the photos used to make this video have been manipulated, I can tell you that they have. The colours have been enhanced to make it more pleasant to watch and to show the subtle differences on the surface materials. The original non-enhanced photos would be quite boring to look at and scientists believe areas with shades of blue contain younger, fresher material, including flows, pits and cracks.
The images were captured during a phase that lasted from August 2015 to October 2015 where the spacecraft orbited Ceres at an altitude of just 1450 kilometers. Ceres is the largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, but it wasn’t Dawn’s first stop. Dawn has previously orbiting the asteroid Vesta for 14 months back in 2011 and 2012 before it arrived at Ceres in March 2015.
While the photos for the video were taken from a very low orbit, the spacecraft is currently flying even lower while it is on its final mapping trip at about 385 kilometers height from the surface. That’s closer than the international space station is to earth.
“The simulated overflight shows the wide range of crater shapes that we have encountered on Ceres. The viewer can observe the sheer walls of the crater Occator, and also Dantu and Yalode, where the craters are a lot flatter,” said Ralf Jaumann, a Dawn mission scientist at DLR.