In this period, African Americans are celebrating the harvest holiday called Kwanzaa. NASA decided to honor this holiday, and released some exclusive images of a formation on the dwarf planet Ceres named after the ancient African holiday. The photos display a small mountain common for the area where it can be found, called Kwanzaa Tholus.
How does Kwanzaa Tholus look like?
Kwanzaa is a Swahili word which can be translated as “first fruits”, so it’s a direct reference to harvesting. Tholus is a variation of the Greek word “tholos”, which described a round-shaped building with a vault or a conical formation as a roof. Also, it was used to describe hills or mountains in the shape of a dome.
Therefore, Kwanzaa Tholus is a dome-shaped mountain on the surface of Ceres. It is situated in the northeast, it’s about 2 miles high, and spreads on 22 by 12 miles. Its edges and formations are quite soft, so it was relatively difficult to spot it in the black and grey image of the Dawn mission. Now, NASA decided to publish an elevation image, which makes it the mountain more visible.
Kwanzaa Tholus might have once been a cryovolcano
Kwanzaa Tholus is situated above the center of the image, slightly to the right. In the black and grey image, it is marked by a faint shadow, while the elevation map displays it as a D-shaped formation at a strange angle, colored in light blue. It might still be difficult to spot it, given the fact that the mountain is surrounded by many other formations.
On the same map, Ahuna Mons, the most prominent mountain of Ceres is also visible. Researchers believe that Kwanzaa Tholus was once as big as Ahuna Mons. This mountain is a cryovolcano, which is no longer active. It was formed mostly of salt, mud, and ice, which could barely hold formations at big altitudes. Therefore, researchers assumed that both Kwanzaa Tholus and other heights resulted after cryovolcanoes started degrading.
Image Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory