Scientists are trying to discover what it is inside of the bright spots on Ceres, a dwarf planet discovered in 1801. Thanks to a NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft orbiting near the dwarf planet, scientist have come to the conclusion that Ceres had ocean or any other ocean bodies in the past.
One of the last studies, published in 2015 in the journal Nature, stated that the dwarf planet bright areas might be linked with the collision with asteroids. Dawn identified more than 130 bright spots on the planet, and what it seems to be inside the holes have shocked Scientists; salt (magnesium sulfate) or also called hexahydrite.
A study published Wednesday in Nature states that Ceres’ bright spots have big amounts of carbonate minerals which probably are the highest concentration seen outside our planet Earth according to a NASA press release.
“This is the first time we see this kind of material elsewhere in the solar system in such a large amount,” said Maria Cristina De Sanctis, lead author and head researcher of Dawn’s visible and infrared mapping spectrometer.
According to De Sanctis’ study, it was found that most of the mineral of Ceres’ bright spots is sodium carbonate, a kind of salt found on Earth in hydrothermal environments. De Sanctis analysis explains that the salt was exposed after asteroids hit the surface. This particular element found in Ceres’ bright spots is a significant factor of their distinctive glow from the top of the dwarf planet.
— NASA's Dawn Mission (@NASA_Dawn) June 29, 2016
The origins of a dwarf planet called Ceres will continue to baffle astronomers
The findings suggest that Ceres might have had liquid water beneath its surface in recent geological time. Sanctis says the salt might be the last remnants of oceans, rivers that were able to reach the planet’s surface. If true, this would mean a huge stepping stone for astronomers considering this evidence would offer a glimpse into a possible future for other planets and even Earth.
Last year, it was also found of carbonate minerals on Mars, which was a surprising discovering for scents because this would suggest that Mars had oceans long time ago. According to De Sanctis, the amounts of carbonates seen on Ceres so far are much higher than in any other planet in the solar system besides Earth, she said. Also, recent studies also suggest that Cere’s salt within the bright spots might contain ammonia.
Furthermore, the deputy principal investigator for the Dawn mission Carol Raymond has said in a press release that it was astonishing how much scientists are learning about Ceres’ bright patches. With Dawn, scientists can determine Ceres’ chemical and geophysical properties. She says that as scientists, they are anxious for the future discoveries.
— Dwarf Planet Ceres (@CeresToday) July 1, 2016