Ceres is a dwarf planet that was discovered in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Ceres is also the biggest celestial body that orbits Neptune.
The minor planet has a diameter of just 945 km (587 mi) and is mainly comprised of rock and ice. When it was first discovered, in 1801, it was believed to be a large asteroid, but since then the celestial object raised in ranking, being classified as a dwarf planet.
Presenting quite an attraction for astronomers, in 2015 a spacecraft of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was sent to orbit around the planet and collect data. The name of the spacecraft was Dawn and was active since 2018, when due to the exhaustion of its fuel. Since then, the probe is in an uncontrolled orbit around the dwarf planet.
During the three years the spacecraft Dawn gathered data about the small planet. Dawn succeeded in creating a topographic map of Ceres, captured pictures and made accurate measurements using various technologies on-board, such as infrared mapping spectrometer and gamma-ray and neutron detector.
Dawn discovers an enormous mountain on Ceres
An important discovery made by Dawn is Ceres’ highest and only mountain of this kind, the Ahuna Mons. Ahuna Mons was determined to measure around 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) in height and have a diameter of 20 km (65,616 feet) of the base. Ahuna Mons is believed to have formed as a result of cryovolcanic activity from Ceres’ interior. Due to an asteroid hitting the surface of Ceres, the impact created a fracture on the layers of the planet and cryovolcanic magma, composed mostly of softened muddy water ice, reached the surface. In the images sent by Dawn spacecraft, the slopes of the mountain appear bright which made the researchers believe that the ridges are made of salt, which could have been a component of the cryovolcanic magma.