Ceres Cryo-volcano Composite Image, August 2016 (credit: JPL)
The Dawn space probe is mapping, Ceres, the dwarf planet that orbits between Mars and Jupiter.
According to the JPL's announcement, the image of the 13,000 foot mountain was made using enhanced-color photos from the Dawn probe. The orbiters cameras used blue, green, and infrared filters combined to create the composite view. NASA investigators have dubbed the new mountain, Ahuna Mons, a volcanic dome unlike any seen elsewhere in the solar system.
According to the geologic analysis, researchers have studied models of volcanic domes, 3-D terrain maps, and the Dawn images, as well as similar structures elsewhere in the solar system, leading to the conclusion that the mountain is likely a cryovolcano. Such a volcano would erupt liquids made of volatiles such as water, instead of melted rock like on Earth or Jupiter's volcanic moon Io. The chief investigator noted:
"This is the only known example of a cryovolcano that potentially formed from a salty mud mix and that may have formed in the geologically recent past."
A real geologic puzzle remains as to how a volcano can develop on a dwarf planet with a solid core, no gravitational forces to tugging at it from near by, and temperatures hovering at -40F when water is like solid rock.