TECH
26/02/2015 08:47 GMT | Updated 26/02/2015 08:59 GMT

Ceres 'Lights' Baffling NASA: What Is Shining On Dwarf Planet's Surface?

It's not often that NASA's own scientists are left scratching their heads. However when it comes to the dwarf planet Ceres, there's a lot to be confused about.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has just captured some new close-up shots of the tiny planet showing what appear to be two bright lights on the surface.

And scientists have no idea what they are.

ceres

Andreas Nathues, lead investigator for the framing camera team said, "The brightest spot continues to be too small to resolve with our camera, but despite its size it is brighter than anything else on Ceres. This is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us."

It has been speculated that the lights might be reflections from ice, or maybe evidence of volcanic activity. UFO hunters think it means Ceres is the Death Star.

Long range photos had revealed a single light, however it now appears that up close they are two very distinct lights, reflecting 40 per cent of the light that's sent their way.

What's astonishing is that these 'closer' images were actually taken 29,000 miles away. Dawn is using a revolutionary ion propulsion system to reach the planet where on 6 March the spacecraft will move into orbit.

Once in orbit it's hoped that the spacecraft will be able to take much higher-resolution photos and in turn, solve the mystery that's currently puzzling scientists and astronomers.

Ceres is the largest known object in the asteroid belt. Found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, astronomers have been keen to study the planet due to a belief that it could contain huge quantities of water.