The dwarf planet Ceres appears to have hidden organic material which was revealed during Dawn mission. NASA’s Dawn spaceship has discovered organic molecules, the essence of life containing carbon, on planet Ceres. The study was published on February 16 in the Science reports magazine. The organic material unveiled seems to be native.
- NASA’s Dawn rover started its mission in September 2007.
- The spaceship reached planet Ceres in March 2015.
- While circulating around the planet, the infrared tool of the craft detected organic material.
Scientists believe that it may have formed on Ceres, rather than being transported there, through comet or asteroid strikes. Michael Kuppers, a planetary scientist based at the European Space Astronomy Centre, argued that Ceres is a dwarf planet which might have preserved some of its internal heat since it formed. Specialists believe that this planet may hide a subsurface ocean. Thus, all these findings attest the possibility of the existence of primitive life which might have developed here in time.
Kuppers also added that planet Ceres joins other natural satellites of massive planets together with planet Mars, being listed as one of the locations in the solar systems which might host life. The Dawn mission was estimated at $467 million and the spacecraft set off in September 2007 to analyze Ceres and Vesta. These dwarf planets represent the largest celestial objects in the asteroid belt situated between Jupiter and Mars.
Dawn spaceship managed to circle Vesta, which is 330 miles wide, starting from July 2011 until September 2012 when it set off for Ceres. Ceres has situated about 590 miles across. Dawn reached Ceres in March 2015. The spaceship was declared the first one to circle two different cosmic objects outside the Earth-moon system.
When orbiting Ceres, Dawn revealed some unusual bright spots located on crater floors. That seemed to be an ice volcano about 2.5 miles tall. The finding helped researchers explain that water ice existed beneath the surface of the dwarf planet, especially in the regions near the planet’s poles. The discovery of this organic material represents a significant achievement.
The carbon-bearing molecules, which were revealed by using the infrared mapping spectrometer instrument, appear to be concentrated in an area of approximately 385 square miles, near the Ernutet crater. However, the spacecraft also identified another patch of organic of at about 250 miles away, in the Inamahari crater. Astronomers believe that there could be other such areas on Ceres.
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