Friday, September 2, 2016

Surprising Ceres

Ceres has been quite fascinating even on long approach by the Dawn satellite.  For months astronomers -- and me, too -- speculated on the composition of the really really bright spots in Occator Crater.   When first espied, astronomers and satellite operators didn't even know they were in a crater.

It turns out they are probably made of a magnesium salt, left behind when a salty brine inside Ceres came up to the surface, and the water evapo/sublimated away, leaving behind the salt.

Another thing that astronomers saw when Dawn finally made it to Ceres was a very big bump.  In fact, on the surface of Ceres, it was a mountain.  But they didn't know what it was made of or how it was made.

Now they think they do.  It's our old pal ice -- this time in the form of an ice volcano.

The article below talks about it.  One thing I find interesting -- which I found interesting when I first saw it -- is that it has hardly any craters.  That means it's a very young (recently formed) feature.  

Read more about it here:  Ice volcano spotted on Ceres, the asteroid belt's dwarf planet

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