Dwarf planet Ceres has plenty of water: NASA

Dwarf planet Ceres has plenty of water: NASA

The dwarf planet Ceres has a plenty of water in the form of ice either on or under its shallow surface, a fresh analysis of data provided by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has suggested.

Ceres, the largest rock in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, has long been suspected of possessing large amounts of water (30% of its total mass). Researchers believe that it has water ice mixed with the rock on its surface. It also may have belched up large plumes of water vapor.

The researchers reached the conclusion after making an analysis of Ceres’ global map showing the distribution of hydrogen. The global map was created using data collected by Dawn’s Gamma Ray & Neutron Detector (GRaND).

Thomas Prettyman, the principal investigator for GRaND, said, “If you look at the elemental composition of Ceres, it bears some resemblance to the carbonaceous contrite meteorites. But there are differences that support the idea that ice and rock that came together and formed Ceres actually separated in the interior and were redistributed by processes like convection.”

There is also a great possibility that Ceres may be harboring a liquid ocean deep below its surface, but any such ocean would likely be composed of a very salty chemical mixture. New data suggests that water on the dwarf planet is largely stored in ice deposits near its surface.

Prettyman presented the new findings at a news conference at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting held on Dec. 15th in San Francisco.


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