Known as the largest asteroid from the main belt located between Mars and Jupiter, the cosmic object Ceres captured the attention of astronomers. Ceres was first observed over two centuries ago by Giusseppe Piazzi at the Palermo Astronomical Observatory. Meanwhile, astronomers have learned a lot more about the asteroid, and they started to wonder if water is also present on the object.
According to Phys.org, scientists have discovered that Ceres features an icy crust. The anomalies present at the distribution of hydrogen from the Occator crater have led to the discovery.
Thumbs up for NASA’s Dawn spacecraft!
The scientists gathered conclusive evidence from the Neutron Detector and the Gamma Ray that are mounted on the Dawn spacecraft of NASA. A detailed map was obtained showing the concentration of hydrogen from Occator’s vicinity. The extra amount of hydrogen is in water ice form.
Prettyman declared, as quoted by Phys.org:
We think that ice has survived in the shallow subsurface during the roughly 20 million years following the formation of Occator. Similarities between the global distribution of hydrogen and the pattern of large craters suggest impact processes have delivered ice to the surface elsewhere on Ceres. This process is accompanied by the loss of ice by sublimation caused by heating of the surface by sunlight.
Ceres has a radius of 473 km, and it has an orbital period of 1,682 days. At such a size, it’s obvious that we certainly wouldn’t want the object located anywhere near our planet. At the distance of 413 million kilometres that separate Ceres from the Sun, the huge asteroid is at enough distance to not pose a threat to our planet.
The new study paper was led by Tom Prettyman, who is a Senior Scientist from the Planetary Science Institute.