The Occasional Journal
Entry No. 14 - 10th September 2015
NASA's Ceres "Lights"
In the previous Journal article we investigated a new, higher resolution image of NASA's Ceres "Pyramid" - although they now seem to prefer calling it "Lonely Mountain", (see µµµ).
This week saw the release of a new, higher resolution image of Ceres's most enduring mystery - the Ceres "Lights".
Figure 1 - The new Ceres "Lights" image
However, before this article gets ahead of itself, many readers will not have been following the story of NASA's Ceres "Lights". So let's start from the beginning.
From the beginning ...
It is possible that the Ceres Lights were spotted as a bright patch on the dwarf planet's surface by the Hubble space telescope in Earth orbit. As the Dawn spacecraft approached Ceres in January 2015 it was able to detect the "Lights" as a bright patch from a distance of 147,000 miles. (Arrowed below).
Figure 2 - Dawn spots the Ceres "Lights"
After Dawn went into a very high orbit around Ceres subsequent images revealed two very small bright patches within Occator crater that were much brighter than anything else on Ceres. NASA immediately described them as the Ceres "Lights".
(In my own correspondence with other researchers I've described the "Lights" as the Ceres Beacons - because as Ceres has rotated they seemed to be sending a signal - like a lighthouse - to anyone who was interested).
The Dawn mission team were so mystified by the "Lights/Beacons" that they set up a special web page offering possible explanations for why they were so reflective. The page even includes a link to an on-line opinion poll that allows the public to choose their favourite explanation. This page can be accessed through the following "stargate" µµµ.
The animated GIF image below shows the "Lights" signalling to space as Ceres rotates. A much bigger copy of the animation can be found here µµµ.
Figure 3 - Animated rotation of Ceres and the "Lights"
The reflectiveness of the "Lights" is such that they can still be seen gleaming as they rotate into the night side of Ceres. It is almost as if they glowing under their own power. Indeed, some anomaly researchers have even suggested that they contain luminescent chemicals. These store up the energy they receive from sunlight to glow when they are in the dark.
Figure 4 - Last frame showing the "Lights" rotating into the darkness
As the orbit of the Dawn spacecraft has spiralled closer to Ceres the images of the "Lights" have improved in resolution. One thing that became clear is that the glare of the "Lights" had been blinding us to their details. As the next image from Dawn shows, one of the two "Lights" began to break down into a cluster of much smaller lights.
It was apparent that the actual area of surface that was super-reflective was much smaller than was previously thought. The ultimate sources of the "Lights" must be very reflective indeed. Despite the higher resolution, most of the details in the "Lights" zones were still being lost in the glare from them.
Figure 5 - Many "Lights" and not just two
For the purposes of Cydonia Quest the two main areas of the "Lights" will be given designations. The zone of "lights" at the centre of the 57 mile wide Occator crater will be called Light Zone 1 - or LZ-1 for short. The zone of lights between LZ-1 and the crater wall of Occator will be called Light Zone 2 - or LZ-2.
Between them they cover a geographical footprint similar in dimensions to the dual cities of Manchester and Liverpool - or Dallas and Fort Worth.
The image below shows the glow of Dallas and Fort Worth at night (with clouds). The lower image has been reduced to a similar resolution to the new image of the Ceres "Lights". In the analysis that follows it will make a good comparison with the geometry that can be discerned in the new "Lights" image.
Figure 6 - The night-time geometry of the Dallas and Fort Worth lights
Dawn's Big Surprise
The new image of the Ceres "Lights" released by the Dawn mission team contained an innovation to peer through their reflective glare. The Dawn camera took two images. One image was effectively a short exposure image, which meant that the camera CD chip wasn't overwhelmed by the brightness of the "Lights". The other image was a normal long exposure image. These two images were then "morphed" together to create the image shown below.
Figure 7 - The new Ceres "Lights" image
The composite image reveals the "Lights" to be astonishingly complex. Light Zone 1 (LZ-1) now resembles the radiating spread of a modern city, with grid patterns and "suburbs". (Compare with night-time Dallas in Figure 6).
In the case of Light Zone 2 (LZ-2) the main area of brightness is now toned down so that it is a light gray in colour. There are strange dark lines and there is a jumble of small shapes hinting at the existence of a landscape of large "buildings". The "constellation" of small bright "Lights" that surround this main area are now seen to be mounds the size of the "Face" and D&M Pyramid at Cydonia, Mars - one to two miles across. These large mounds are pyramidal and most of them tend towards having four sides.
Figure 8 - An image enlargement of the Ceres "Lights"
Light Zone 1
Let's now zoom in further on LZ-1.
The Dawn team technicians have done such a good job in toning down the extreme glare of LZ-1 that we now seem to be able to see shadow and highlighting. LZ-1 appears to have a 3D structure reaching as high as the "pyramids" in LZ-2.
In terms of the artificiality hypothesis it's appearance suggests a collapsed arcology or arcology dome. (An arcology is a single self contained habitat able to house the population of a town or city).
Figure 9 - Extreme enlargement of Light Zone 1
If it was a non-domed arcology, then it might have been only a relatively low-rise arcology. In the last Cydonia Quest Journal article it was suggested that NASA's four mile high "Ceres Pyramid" might be the ruin of a super arcology. The radiating 3D structure of LZ-1 is a bit reminiscent of Moon Base Alpha in the 1970's television series Space: 1999.
Figure 10 - The fictional Moon Base Alpha
If we were to suggest a natural explanation for the appearance of LZ-1 it would be that it is a mass of ice that has melted back in a strange gridded geometry pattern. However, this fits less well with the more varied appearance of LZ-2.
Light Zone 2
The enlargement of LZ-2 below has been rotated to give a better view of how the constellation of bright "pyramids" seems to have been set out in a deliberate arrangement.
The larger central part of LZ-2 has the appearance of a huge collapsed structure - possibly an arcology or dome. There's definitely a complex, 3D pattern of a twisted grid structure of some sort.
However, it is best to wait for Dawn to drop down from its current 900 mile altitude orbit and provide higher resolution images before making definitive statements about LZ-2.
Figure 11 - Rotated enlargement of Light Zone 2
The Ceres "Lights" look so much like the ruins of some alien colony complex in Dawn's new image that we might actually be on the verge of something really "Big".
Time - and higher resolution images - will tell .....
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