Ceres is no moon, but it did help to kill a planet. The large dwarf planet, originally classified as a real planet, was one of several celestial bodies that called into question Pluto's own status. Thanks to NASA's Dawn spacecraft, earlier this year humans got a close look at Ceres for the first time. The images together revealed some stunning (and possibly planet-destroying) features, but they hadn't yet been stitched together creating a whole vision for the dwarf planet. Well, until now.
Planetary researchers at the German Aerospace Center last week announced a completed atlas of the Ceres. From their announcement:
"It was important to select images that covered the entire dwarf planet under the same illumination conditions," explains Thomas Roatsch from the DLR Institute of Planetary Research. "This allowed us to calculate a uniform, homogenous terrain model." In turn, the model was used as a basis for further processing, in which the individual images were put together to form a global mosaic of the dwarf planet. This was then used to produce the various maps contained in the atlas.
The images used for the first atlas have a resolution of 400 metres per pixel. The images acquired during lower orbits will serve as a basis to refine the terrain model and to create more detailed atlases.
Below are the other image plates from the atlas. Be sure to pore over them closely, in case there's any signs of a womp rat-sized thermal exhaust port.