A new dwarf planet Ceres was revealed to hide a subsurface source of water. This celestial object which seems to be the largest from the main asteroid belt does not appear to be icy. The Dawn spaceship send by NASA has captured some images which revealed a dark and cratered surface which had a bright area consisting of reflective salts.
- The surface of the dwarf planet Ceres does not appear to be icy.
- The planet seems to be the largest from the main asteroid belt.
- By using GRaND, scientists have determines more clues about the water ice located below the surface of the planet.
New research published by some Dawn scientists unveils two different explanation for the formation of ice on the surface of the planet Ceres. Scientists who were involved in the study are bound to present their findings at the 2016 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco. Carol Raymond, the deputy principal investigator of the Dawn mission, claimed that the studies conducted by the team of experts support the idea that ice was separated from rock early during Ceres’ history.
Thus, the crust layer rich in ice formed and that ice lasted near the surface of the dwarf planet throughout the entire history of the solar system. The Dawn mission is based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. On other planetary celestial bodies, water ice is significant, being a primary ingredient bound to sustain life. Raymond stated that the discovery of area rich in water in the distant past might help them reveal more clues about planets from the solar system which used to support life.
The uppermost surface of the dwarf planet Ceres is very rich in hydrogen, having higher concentrations in areas from mid to high latitudes. These areas may consist in wide surfaces covered in water ice. The latest study which discusses this matter was recently published in the Science magazine. Thomas Prettyman is the principal investigator of Dawn’s gamma ray and neutron detector (GRaND) which is based at the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona. He argued that ice on Ceres is not located only in a few craters.
Ice is spread everywhere, especially near to the surfaces which have higher latitude. Scientists have used GRaND as a tool to reveal the concentrations of potassium, iron, and hydrogen in the uppermost surface of Ceres. GRaND is bound to calculate the energy and number of neutrons and gamma rays which are released from Ceres. Neutrons are formed once the galactic cosmic rays touch the surface of planet Ceres.
Image source: wikipedia