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Guest, June 19, 2015 in News & Current Events
Taken from an altitude of 4,400 kilometres, as Dawn began to circle Ceres on its second mapping orbit, the pixels in this image are 140 metres on a side. At that scale, this "pyramid" is 18 kilometres across! Taking a quick estimate of around 28 degrees for the angle of the left-hand slope, and figuring the peak to be around two-thirds of the way across the base, that puts the peak of this "pyramid" at over 6,300 metres high! By comparison, the human-made "Great" Pyramid of Giza is just 139 metres high.
This formation, quite literally, stands out as yet another amazing feature scientists are already puzzling over on Ceres. As the mission continues, and Dawn draws closer to the surface - to 1,450 km for its High Altitude Mapping Orbit (HAMO) from Aug 6 - Oct 15 and then down to 375 km for its Low Altitude Mapping Orbit (LAMO) from Dec 8 to mission end - the images captured will provide more clues as to the origin of these formations, but will (no doubt) also reveal even more fascinating details about Ceres.