Dwarf Planet Ceres Is an Ocean World: Scientists

Scientists now say Ceres is an ocean world with brine under the surface after reviewing data from NASA's Dawn orbiter.


NSFW    WASHINGTON — NASA's Dawn spacecraft shot by the dwarf planet Ceres two years ago. After conducting data analysis on the Occator crater, scientists now say Ceres is an ocean world with brine under the surface. These studies were published separately in Nature Astronomy and Geoscience.

Ceres lies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Writing in a news release, NASA says the Dawn mission passed the dwarf planet, and from a distance of about 35 kilometers away, the orbiter took crisp images of Cere's strangely bright areas and made gravity measurements.

From the data, Dawn scientists from the California Institute of Technology determined there is a brine reservoir under the crater's surface, about 40 kilometers deep and hundreds of kilometers wide.

The brine consists of sodium chloride bounded with water and ammonium chloride, and the salty liquid is apparently rising to the surface. These compounds are organic chemicals, and the brine also reflects light, which explains the crater's bright areas.

Researchers say a meteor impact formed the crater millions of years ago and created fissures that reached the reservoir deep in Ceres' structure. This allows the salty liquids to move up to the surface.

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