The Dawn spacecraft was sent out to the asteroid belt, in 2007, to observe the protoplanets Vesta and Ceres. The latter was first classified as a planet, then degraded to an asteroid and is now referred to as a dwarf-planet. Scientists want to learn more about the structure of these objects, helping them better understand the formation of planets, like our Earth.
Dawn is now orbiting Ceres after a 5 billion kilometer (3 billion mile) journey. The images, received from the probe, have shown strange shiny spots on the surface of the dwarf-planet and a six kilometer (four mile) high elevation that researchers cannot explain. The “Lonely Mountain” does not show any typical signs of geological activity around it, making its formation a mystery. In addition scientists can yet not explain its shiny white surface.
There have been lots of theories, regarding the shiny spots, since they have been discovered. Many believe they are ice or salt but how they got there would still be a mystery. NASA scientists have turned to the public for ideas and are taking the incoming suggestions seriously, maybe less those of alien bases under the surface.