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Tue Jun 28 18:49:35 SAST 2016

Dawn marks year at Ceres, scientists puzzled about mysterious mountain

Times LIVE | 08 March, 2016 13:43
This side-perspective view of the mysterious mountain Ahuna Mons was made with images from NASA's Dawn spacecraft.
Image by: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

The Dawn spacecraft has revealed stunning new details on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres, including a mountain that the space agency has dubbed 'Ahuna Mons'.

"Ceres has defied our expectations and surprised us in many ways, thanks to a year's worth of data from Dawn. We are hard at work on the mysteries the spacecraft has presented to us," said Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator for the mission, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California in a statement.

Ahuna Mons first appeared as a small, bright-sided bump on the surface of Ceres in February 2015, looking kind of like a pyramid.

However as the mountain came more into focus, it looked more like a dome with smooth, steep walls.

The mountain, which rises higher than mount Kilimanjaro, has scientists puzzled.

"We still do not have a satisfactory model to explain how it formed," said Chris Russell, Dawn's principal investigator at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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