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What's Up In Space? What you need to know on the weird bright 'lights' on Ceres & a spacesuit water leak

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Thursday, February 26, 2015, 8:33 AM - Weird bright spots on Ceres, a watery spacewalk and an incredible new timelapse from orbit. It's what's up in space!

Ceres shows its spots, and they're pretty weird

For weeks now, NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been creeping up on the dwarf planet Ceres, set for a March 6 rendezvous, and the images from the spacecraft  have been noting an unusual bright spot in the northern hemisphere.

Upon closer approach, the features of Ceres are coming into focus, but this bright region isn't getting less unusual. In fact, it's now revealed to be two different bright spots in the same crater!

Ceres and its bright spots. Click or tap the image to enlarge. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

What could they be?

"The brightest spot continues to be too small to resolve with our camera, but despite its size it is brighter than anything else on Ceres. This is truly unexpected and still a mystery to us," Andreas Nathues, the lead investigator for Dawn's scientific camera system, said in a NASA statement.

On Monday, March 2, the NASA Dawn team will be holding a briefing ahead of the spacecraft's arrival later in the week, when hopefully even more images of the dwarf planet are revealed.

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On Spacewalk #2, Water Leaks into Astronaut Virts' Helmet

The second of three spacewalks took place outside the International Space Station today, as NASA astronauts Barry 'Butch' Wilmore and Terry Virts worked to prep the station for a new set of docking ports later this year. While the first spacewalk, on Saturday morning, took place without incident, the same could not be said for this one.

Terry Virts and Barry Wilmore outside the ISS's Pressurized Mating Adapter-2. Credit: NASA TV

According to NASA:


NASA astronaut and spacewalker Terry Virts reported seeing a small amount of water floating free in his helmet during airlock repressurization at the conclusion of Wednesday’s spacewalk. There was no report of water during the spacewalk itself, and the crew was never in any danger. After removing the helmet, Expedition 42 crew member Samantha Cristoforetti reported on the free floating water inside the helmet and indicated the helmet absorption pad was damp. Ground teams are currently analyzing the situation to confirm the source of the water.


The spacesuit worn by Virts is one that suffered problems with water leaking into the helmet in the past, and had a part of its fan/pump/separator replaced just prior to the spacewalks.

The third and last of these EVAs is scheduled for Sunday, March 1.

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Incredible timelapse from the International Space Station

For pure amazement, watch this timelapse of footage taken by cameras on the space station, and compiled by Phil Selmes of Selmes Films.

Once the video starts, it's recommended that you bump the resolution up as high as it will go, and then go full-screen if you can, just to get maximum enjoyment out of the 'ride'.

According to Selmes, all the footage was taken from January and February 2015, and is courtesy the Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Centre.

Sources: NASA JPL | NASA Blogs | Selmesfilms/YouTube

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