Friday, 24 January 2014


A dwarf planet positioned right next to us in the asteroid belt may contain more freshwater than earth and even some life

By Shepard Ambellas
(INTELLIHUB) — Touted as the only dwarf planet in the solar system, Ceres, which is made up of about one-third the mass of the asteroid belt itself, has been shown by a European Space Agency research team to harbor vast supplies of freshwater.
While it it is currently not yet known how the water is distributed onto or inside the planet, some speculate ice volcanoes could be a source.
The NASA spacecraft “Dawn” is expected to arrive at Ceres in Feb. 2015 to gather more information pertaining to the water and life on the tiny planets surface.
“We’ve got a spacecraft on the way to Ceres, so we don’t have to wait long before getting more context on this intriguing result, right from the source itself,” said Carol Raymond, deputy principal investigator for Dawn at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Dawn will map the geology and chemistry of the surface in high resolution, revealing the processes that drive the outgassing activity.”
Dawn, which launched in 2007, had previously orbited the protoplanet Vesta, the second-largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter that’s littered with rock left over from the formation of the solar system some 4.6 billion years ago.
The discovery puts Ceres in a special class of solar system objects with active water plumes, a key ingredient for life, and includes Jupiter’s moon Europa – which may have an ocean beneath thick surface ice – and Saturn’s moon Enceladus, where water jets have been spotted on the surface.
So why would NASA spend so much money, time and effort to visit such a world? Did they already suspect the possibility that Ceres houses water and possibly life?

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