Occator (crater)

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PIA20350 crop - Occator from LAMO.jpg
Occator imaged by Dawn from LAMO. Fractures are associated with the bright spots and some other areas.
Coordinates19°52′N 238°51′E / 19.86°N 238.85°E / 19.86; 238.85Coordinates: 19°52′N 238°51′E / 19.86°N 238.85°E / 19.86; 238.85[1]
Diameter92 kilometres (57 mi)
Depth4 km
NamingAfter Occator, a helper God of Ceres

Occator /ɒˈktər/ is an impact crater located on Ceres that contains "Spot 5", the brightest of the bright spots observed by the Dawn spacecraft. It was known as "Region A" in ground-based images taken by the W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea.[2]

The crater was named after Occator, the Roman god of the harrow and a helper to Ceres. The name Occator was officially approved by the IAU on 3 July 2015.[1]

On 9 December 2015, scientists reported that the bright spots on Ceres, including those in Occator, may be related to a type of salt, particularly a form of brine containing magnesium sulfate hexahydrite (MgSO4·6H2O); the spots were also found to be associated with ammonia-rich clays.[3] More recently, on 29 June 2016, scientists reported the bright spot to be mostly sodium carbonate (Na
), implying that hydrothermal activity was probably involved in creating the bright spots.[4][5]

The bright dome in the center of the crater is named Cerealia Facula,[6] and the group of thinner bright spots to the east are named Vinalia Faculae.[7] In July 2018, NASA released a comparison of physical features, including Occator, found on Ceres with similar ones present on Earth.[8]


Highest-resolution mosaic of Cerealia Facula - click to see full image (Final orbit; July 2018)
(use large image viewer to avoid browser crashes)
Highest-resolution mosaic of the Vinalia Faculae - click to see full image (Final orbit; July 2018)
(use large image viewer to avoid browser crashes)
Context - Center of Occator (enhanced color; LAMO; February 2016)
Bright spot may be mostly sodium carbonate (NASA; June 2016).[4]
Ceres - crater Occator - simulated perspectives
Looking north
Looking south
NASA (December 2017)
Final orbit - Cerealia Facula - Mosaic Topography Model
(22 km (14 mi)) (August 2018)


Ceres flyover animations
Ceres - Occator - Flyover (animation; 02:20; 15 December 2016)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Occator (crater)". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology Research Program., accessed 6 July 2015
  2. ^ Kupper; et al. (22 January 2014). "PIA17831: Water Detection on Ceres". NASA. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  3. ^ Landau, Elizabeth (9 December 2015). "New Clues to Ceres' Bright Spots and Origins". NASA. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  4. ^ a b Landau, Elizabeth; Greicius, Tony (29 June 2016). "Recent Hydrothermal Activity May Explain Ceres' Brightest Area". NASA. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  5. ^ De Sanctis, M. C.; Raponi, A.; Ammannito, E.; Ciarniello, M.; Toplis, M. J.; McSween, H. Y.; Castillo-Rogez, J. C.; Ehlmann, B. L.; Carrozzo, F. G.; Marchi, S.; Tosi, F.; Zambon, F.; Capaccioni, F.; Capria, M. T.; Fonte, S.; Formisano, M.; Frigeri, A.; Giardino, M.; Longobardo, A.; Magni, G.; Palomba, E.; McFadden, L. A.; Pieters, C. M.; Jaumann, R.; Schenk, P.; Mugnuolo, R.; Raymond, C. A.; Russell, C. T. (29 June 2016). "Bright carbonate deposits as evidence of aqueous alteration on (1) Ceres". Nature. 536: 1–4. Bibcode:2016Natur.536...54D. doi:10.1038/nature18290. PMID 27362221.
  6. ^ "Cerealia Facula". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology Research Program.
  7. ^ "Vinalia Faculae". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. USGS Astrogeology Research Program.
  8. ^ Landau, Elizabeth; McCartney, Gretchen (24 July 2018). "What Looks Like Ceres on Earth?". NASA. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  9. ^ Brown, Dwayne; Wendel, JoAnna; McCartney, Gretchen (6 September 2018). "The Legacy of NASA's Dawn, Near End of Mission". NASA. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  10. ^ Brown, Dwayne; Wendel, JoAnna; McCartney, Gretchen (1 November 2018). "NASA's Dawn Mission to Asteroid Belt Comes to End". NASA. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  11. ^ Chang, Kenneth (1 November 2018). "NASA's Dawn Mission to the Asteroid Belt Says Good Night - Launched in 2007, the spacecraft discovered bright spots on Ceres and forbidding terrain on Vesta". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  12. ^ Landau, Elizabeth; Dyches, Preston (8 June 2015). "Fly Over Ceres in New Video". NASA. Retrieved 9 June 2015.

External links[edit]