On the way to its lowest and final orbit, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft captured this dramatic image of Ceres’s limb.IMAGE BY NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
The tiny, frigid world Ceres amazes with evidence of recent ice volcanoes fed by the remnants of an ancient underground sea.
Tucked into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, the dwarf planet Ceres is a small world that holds big surprises. A slew of new research from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft advances the case that—in its own cold, salty way—Ceres is a geologically active body, with ice volcanoes and surviving pockets of an ancient ocean.
About a year’s worth of data collected by Dawn from late 2017 through late 2018—during its final orbits before running out of fuel—show that the dwarf planet probably has briny liquid seeping out on its surface, as well as mounds and hills that formed when ice melted and refroze after an asteroid impact about 20 million years ago.
The idea that liquid water could persist on Ceres—a world that’s less than a third of the moon’s width—would have once seemed outlandish. But now that humankind has seen it up close, we know that frigid, tiny Ceres is geologically alive.
Continue reading… “Dwarf planet closest to Earth is geologically alive”