Located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, this mysterious world has been the protagonist of many headlines in recent years – from strange lights to pyramidal mountains. Now, new data obtained by NASA when analyzing what was sent by the Dawn probe, have revealed that there is water in a liquid state under its surface.
“For a long time it was believed to be a primitive body, but now Ceres is an oceanic world with deep brines at regional and possibly global scales,” writes Julie Castillo-Rogez, a planetary scientist who was not involved in the research, but urged inquiry. more on the mission to learn more about the evolution of the planet and its “habitability potential.”
The new results come from the Dawn probe, which orbited the dwarf planet between 2015 and 2018, collecting scientific data until it ran out of fuel. But before the latter happened, it flew over the surface, focusing on Occator Crater, a 20-million-year-old feature that was the source of a strange glow in early close-ups and photos.
Research shows that Ceres may have been geologically active in the recent past. It also adds more mysteries, suggesting that various bright parts of the surface were formed by different causes, including ice volcanoes. These findings are discussed in seven articles published today in Nature.
According to the authors of one of the studies, led by Carol Raymond of the California Institute of Technology, in the United States, a large reservoir of brine, an aqueous solution saturated with salt, would be hidden under the Occator crater.
In another article, Maria Cristina De Sanctis from the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics and her colleagues point out the presence of hydrated sodium chloride in the central and larger bright area of the same crater. These salts usually dry out quickly, suggesting that new brine is being pushed across the surface.
“These results reveal that there is water in a liquid state under the surface of the planet and that Ceres is a kind of ocean world, like some moons of Saturn and Jupiter,” said De Sanctis. “The material found is very important in terms of astrobiology since we know that these minerals are all essential for the emergence of life.”
Finally, what has been published also indicates that mounds and hills found in the crater would have formed after water flows – created by the original impact – froze. Such behavior has only been seen before on Earth and on Mars.
Source: AFP /The Independent