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Dwarf Planet Ceres

Dwarf Planet Ceres


According to the data collected by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, dwarf planet Ceres reportedly has salty water underground.

About Ceres:

  • It is the largest celestial object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
  • The scientists have given Ceres the status of an “ocean world” as it has a big reservoir of salty water underneath its frigid surface.
    • Ocean Worlds is a term for ‘Water in the Solar System and Beyond’.
  • This has led to an increased interest of scientists that the dwarf planet was maybe habitable or has the potential to be.
  • This new understanding of Ceres has been made possible because of the data collected by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft when it flew just 35 km over the surface of Ceres in 2018.
  • Ceres has a diameter of about 950 km, which is more than one-fourth of Earth’s moon.
  • There is 92 km wide crater named Occator located in Ceres’ northern hemisphere. This crater is said to have formed by an impact approximately 22 million years ago.

Key findings:

  • Ceres has a big reservoir of salty water underneath its frigid surface. 
  • The salty water originated in a brine reservoir spread hundreds of miles and about 40 km beneath the surface of the Ceres.
  • Further, there is an evidence that Ceres remains geologically active with cryovolcanism - volcanoes oozing icy material.
  • Instead of molten rock, cryovolcanoes or salty-mud volcanoes release frigid, salty water sometimes mixed with mud.

Dwarf Planets:

  • According to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a dwarf planet is a celestial body that orbits the sun, has enough mass to assume a nearly round shape, has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit and is not a moon.
  • Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Makemake and Haumea are the first five dwarf planets.

Source: Indian Express