CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Sci-Tech

The 4-mile-tall pyramid mountain on dwarf planet Ceres is glowing

NASA's Dawn spacecraft finds that the largest object in the asteroid belt is also a huge mystery, as the craft takes a closer look.

This peak rises as tall as anything on the North American continent. NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/LPI

As NASA's Dawn spacecraft gets closer to the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt, this bizarre body seems to yield more questions than answers.

In its latest video, posted Thursday, NASA shows us that in addition to the intriguing bright spots in a large crater on Ceres, there are also bright streaks running down the sides of a pyramid-shaped mountain rising higher than Alaska's 20,000-foot (6,100 meter) Mt. McKinley.

Marc Rayman, Dawn mission director, shows us the bright spots at the center and around one edge of a crater that's 60 miles across and 2 miles deep at the highest level of detail and context we've seen so far, but without providing any new insights as to which of the many theories about what's causing them might be closest to right.

And then there's that conical, almost pyramid-looking mountain that rises 4 miles high and is oddly dark on one side while the other side glows with bright streaks that seem similar in their effect to what's causing the other bright spots.

"What does this structure tell us about how this world works?" Rayman says.

Dude, if you don't know, then we might as well assume it's the headlight of an idling spaceship until science proves otherwise. Fortunately, Dawn will continue to descend for a closer look until its closest approach toward the end of this year.

Watch the video below for yourself. Dawn's images of Ceres have been animated and exaggerated a bit, and also put into 3D toward the end.