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10/27/2017 02:26 AM
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Dawn Finds Possible Ancient Ocean Remnants at Ceres
Minerals containing water are widespread on Ceres, suggesting the dwarf planet may have had a global ocean in the past. What became of that ocean? Could Ceres still have liquid today?
Two new studies from NASA's Dawn mission shed light on these questions.
The Dawn team found that Ceres' crust is a mixture of ice, salts and hydrated materials that were subjected to past and possibly recent geologic activity, and that this crust represents most of that ancient ocean. The second study builds off the first and suggests there is a softer, easily deformable layer beneath Ceres' rigid surface crust, which could be the signature of residual liquid left over from the ocean, too.
"More and more, we are learning that Ceres is a complex, dynamic world that may have hosted a lot of liquid water in the past, and may still have some underground," said Julie Castillo-Rogez, Dawn project scientist and co-author of the studies, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
What's inside Ceres? Gravity will tell.
Landing on Ceres to investigate its interior would be technically challenging and would risk contaminating the dwarf planet. Instead, scientists use Dawn's observations in orbit to measure Ceres' gravity, in order to estimate its composition and interior structure.
[link to spaceref.com