Ceres' lonely moutain: NASA seeks help to solve mystery

NASA has found more than one mystery on the dwarf planet Ceres, including those shiny spots that it has been drawing closer to over the past several months. Joining those shiny spots is a very tall mountain that is likewise shiny, and the space agency is stumped about how it formed. To help speed up the mystery solving process, NASA has decided to turn to the public, giving amateur researchers a shot at finding the answer.

The mountain, which is now referred to as the Lonely Mountain, was found back in April, and measures in at about 4 miles high. It has shiny sides, as you can see in the image above, the same sort of shine seen in some of the planet's other features. The image was shot by the Dawn spacecraft.

NASA has reportedly already received many suggestions from the public, and it is listening to them all. In a statement during a space conference in France, Dawn's chief investigator Christopher Russell said, "We're having difficulty understanding what made that mountain and we have been getting many suggestions from the public."

Russell said he received an email from someone who said the mountain was similar to ice structures he'd spotted in the woods in Arkansas. It is suggested that Lonely Mountain itself could be a massive structure of ice — something that seems possible due to is relatively smooth shiny sides. It is also thought, however, that it could be salt, not ice.

SOURCE: Discovery