A view of Ceres in natural color, by the Dawn spacecraft in May 2015
|Discovered by||Giuseppe Piazzi|
|Discovery date||1 January 1801|
|MPC designation||(1) Ceres|
|A899 OF; 1943 XB|
| Dwarf planet |
|Adjectives||Cererian / /,|
rarely Cererean / /
| Epoch 2014-Dec-09|
|Aphelion||2.9773 AU |
|4.60 yr |
|466.6 d |
Average orbital speed
|Inclination||10.593° to ecliptic |
9.20° to invariable plane
|Proper orbital elements|
Proper semi-major axis
Proper mean motion
|78.193318 deg / yr|
Proper orbital period
|4.60397 yr |
Precession of perihelion
|54.070272 arcsec / yr|
Precession of the ascending node
|−59.170034 arcsec / yr|
|Dimensions||(965.2 × 961.2|
× 891.2) ± 2.0 km
|Mass||(9.393±0.005)×1020 kg |
Equatorial surface gravity
|0.28 m/s2 |
Equatorial escape velocity
Sidereal rotation period
Equatorial rotation velocity
North pole right ascension
North pole declination
|6.64 to 9.34|
|0.854″ to 0.339″|
Ceres ( // ; minor-planet designation: 1 Ceres) is the largest object in the asteroid belt that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, slightly closer to Mars's orbit. With a diameter of 945 km (587 mi), Ceres is both the largest of the asteroids and the only unambiguous dwarf planet inside Neptune's orbit. It is the 33rd-largest known body in the Solar System.
The asteroid belt is the circumstellar disc in the Solar System located roughly between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter. It is occupied by numerous irregularly shaped bodies called asteroids or minor planets. The asteroid belt is also termed the main asteroid belt or main belt to distinguish it from other asteroid populations in the Solar System such as near-Earth asteroids and trojan asteroids. About half the mass of the belt is contained in the four largest asteroids: Ceres, Vesta, Pallas, and Hygiea. The total mass of the asteroid belt is approximately 4% that of the Moon, or 22% that of Pluto, and roughly twice that of Pluto's moon Charon.
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. In English, Mars carries a name of the Roman god of war, and is often referred to as the "Red Planet" because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance that is distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth.
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest in the Solar System. It is a giant planet with a mass one-thousandth that of the Sun, but two-and-a-half times that of all the other planets in the Solar System combined. Jupiter and Saturn are gas giants; the other two giant planets, Uranus and Neptune, are ice giants. Jupiter has been known to astronomers since antiquity. It is named after the Roman god Jupiter. When viewed from Earth, Jupiter can reach an apparent magnitude of −2.94, bright enough for its reflected light to cast shadows, and making it on average the third-brightest natural object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus.
Ceres is composed of rock and ice, and contains approximately one-third of the mass of the entire asteroid belt.Ceres is the only object in the asteroid belt known to be rounded by its own gravity, although detailed analysis was required to exclude Vesta. From Earth, the apparent magnitude of Ceres ranges from 6.7 to 9.3, peaking once at opposition every 15 to 16 months, which is its synodic period. Thus even at its brightest, it is too dim to be seen by the naked eye, except under extremely dark skies.
In fluid mechanics, a fluid is said to be in hydrostatic equilibrium or hydrostatic balance when it is at rest, or when the flow velocity at each point is constant over time. This occurs when external forces such as gravity are balanced by a pressure-gradient force. For instance, the pressure-gradient force prevents gravity from collapsing Earth's atmosphere into a thin, dense shell, whereas gravity prevents the pressure gradient force from diffusing the atmosphere into space.
Vesta is one of the largest objects in the asteroid belt, with a mean diameter of 525 kilometres (326 mi). It was discovered by the German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers on 29 March 1807 and is named after Vesta, the virgin goddess of home and hearth from Roman mythology.
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. According to radiometric dating and other sources of evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space, especially the Sun and the Moon, Earth's only natural satellite. Earth orbits around the Sun in 365.26 days, a period known as an Earth year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis about 366.26 times.
Ceres was the first asteroid to be discovered (by Giuseppe Piazzi at Palermo Astronomical Observatory on 1 January 1801).It was originally considered a planet, but was reclassified as an asteroid in the 1850s after many other objects in similar orbits were discovered.
Giuseppe Piazzi was an Italian Catholic priest of the Theatine order, mathematician, and astronomer. He was born in Ponte in Valtellina, and died in Naples. He established an observatory at Palermo, now the Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo – Giuseppe S. Vaiana. Perhaps his most famous discovery was the first dwarf planet, Ceres.
The Giuseppe S. Vaiana Astronomical Observatory is an astronomical observatory located in Palermo, Sicily, Italy, housed inside the Palazzo dei Normanni. It is one of the research facilities of the National Institute of Astrophysics. The observatory carries out research projects in the field of astronomy and astrophysics including the study of solar and stellar coronas, stellar evolution and of the supernova remnants.
Ceres appears to be differentiated into a rocky core and an icy mantle, and may have a remnant internal ocean of liquid water under the layer of ice.The surface is a mixture of water ice and various hydrated minerals such as carbonates and clay. In January 2014, emissions of water vapor were detected from several regions of Ceres. This was unexpected because large bodies in the asteroid belt typically do not emit vapor, a hallmark of comets.
In planetary science, planetary differentiation is the process of separating out different constituents of a planetary body as a consequence of their physical or chemical behavior, where the body develops into compositionally distinct layers; the denser materials of a planet sink to the center, while less dense materials rise to the surface, generally in a magma ocean. Such a process tends to create a core and mantle. Sometimes a chemically distinct crust forms on top of the mantle. The process of planetary differentiation has occurred on planets, dwarf planets, the asteroid 4 Vesta, and natural satellites.
A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals included, its chemical composition and the way in which it is formed. Rocks are usually grouped into three main groups: igneous rocks, metamorphic rocks and sedimentary rocks. Rocks form the Earth's outer solid layer, the crust.
A mantle is a layer inside a planetary body bounded below by a core and above by a crust. Mantles are made of rock or ices, and are generally the largest and most massive layer of the planetary body. Mantles are characteristic of planetary bodies that have undergone differentiation by density. All terrestrial planets, a number of asteroids, and some planetary moons have mantles.
The robotic NASA spacecraft Dawn entered orbit around Ceres on 6 March 2015. Na
3), implying that recent geologic activity was probably involved in the creation of the bright spots. In July 2018, NASA released a comparison of physical features found on Ceres with similar ones present on Earth. From June to October 2018, Dawn orbited Ceres from as close as 35 km (22 mi) and as far away as 4,000 km (2,500 mi). The Dawn mission ended on 1 November 2018 after the spacecraft ran out of fuel.
Dawn is a retired space probe launched by NASA in September 2007 with the mission of studying two of the three known protoplanets of the asteroid belt, Vesta and Ceres. It was retired on 1 November 2018 and it is currently in an uncontrolled orbit around its second target, the dwarf planet Ceres. Dawn is the first spacecraft to orbit two extraterrestrial bodies, the first spacecraft to visit either Vesta or Ceres, and the first to visit a dwarf planet, arriving at Ceres in March 2015, a few months before New Horizons flew by Pluto in July 2015.
Several bright surface features were discovered on the dwarf planet Ceres by the Dawn spacecraft in 2015.
Albedo is the measure of the diffuse reflection of solar radiation out of the total solar radiation received by an astronomical body. It is dimensionless and measured on a scale from 0 to 1.
In October 2015, NASA released a true-color portrait of Ceres made by Dawn.In February 2017, organics (tholins) were detected on Ceres in Ernutet crater (see image).
In chemistry, an organic compound is generally any chemical compound that contains carbon. Due to carbon's ability to catenate, millions of organic compounds are known. Study of the properties and synthesis of organic compounds is the discipline known as organic chemistry. For historical reasons, a few classes of carbon-containing compounds, along with a handful of other exceptions, are not classified as organic compounds and are considered inorganic. No consensus exists among chemists on precisely which carbon-containing compounds are excluded, making the definition of an organic compound elusive.
Tholins are a wide variety of organic compounds formed by solar ultraviolet irradiation or cosmic rays from simple carbon-containing compounds such as carbon dioxide, methane or ethane, often in combination with nitrogen or water. Tholins are disordered polymer-like materials made of repeating chains of linked subunits and complex combinations of functional groups. Tholins do not form naturally on modern-day Earth, but they are found in great abundance on the surface of icy bodies in the outer Solar System, and as reddish aerosols in the atmosphere of outer Solar System planets and moons.
Johann Elert Bode, in 1772, first suggested that an undiscovered planet could exist between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.Kepler had already noticed the gap between Mars and Jupiter in 1596. Bode based his idea on the Titius–Bode law which is a now-discredited hypothesis that was first proposed in 1766. Bode observed that there was a regular pattern in the semi-major axes of the orbits of known planets, and that the pattern was marred only by the large gap between Mars and Jupiter. The pattern predicted that the missing planet ought to have an orbit with a semi-major axis near 2.8 astronomical units (AU). William Herschel's discovery of Uranus in 1781 near the predicted distance for the next body beyond Saturn increased faith in the law of Titius and Bode, and in 1800, a group headed by Franz Xaver von Zach, editor of the Monatliche Correspondenz, sent requests to twenty-four experienced astronomers (whom he dubbed the "celestial police"), asking that they combine their efforts and begin a methodical search for the expected planet. Although they did not discover Ceres, they later found several large asteroids.
One of the astronomers selected for the search was Giuseppe Piazzi, a Catholic priest at the Academy of Palermo, Sicily. Before receiving his invitation to join the group, Piazzi discovered Ceres on 1 January 1801.He was searching for "the 87th [star] of the Catalogue of the Zodiacal stars of Mr la Caille", but found that "it was preceded by another". Instead of a star, Piazzi had found a moving star-like object, which he first thought was a comet. Piazzi observed Ceres a total of 24 times, the final time on 11 February 1801, when illness interrupted his observations. He announced his discovery on 24 January 1801 in letters to only two fellow astronomers, his compatriot Barnaba Oriani of Milan and Johann Elert Bode of Berlin. He reported it as a comet but "since its movement is so slow and rather uniform, it has occurred to me several times that it might be something better than a comet". In April, Piazzi sent his complete observations to Oriani, Bode, and Jérôme Lalande in Paris. The information was published in the September 1801 issue of the Monatliche Correspondenz.
By this time, the apparent position of Ceres had changed (mostly due to Earth's orbital motion), and was too close to the Sun's glare for other astronomers to confirm Piazzi's observations. Toward the end of the year, Ceres should have been visible again, but after such a long time it was difficult to predict its exact position. To recover Ceres, Carl Friedrich Gauss, then 24 years old, developed an efficient method of orbit determination.In only a few weeks, he predicted the path of Ceres and sent his results to von Zach. On 31 December 1801, von Zach and Heinrich W. M. Olbers found Ceres near the predicted position and thus recovered it.
The early observers were only able to calculate the size of Ceres to within an order of magnitude. Herschel underestimated its diameter as 260 km in 1802, whereas in 1811 Johann Hieronymus Schröter overestimated it as 2,613 km.
Piazzi originally suggested the name Cerere Ferdinandea for his discovery, after the goddess Ceres (Roman goddess of agriculture, Cerere in Italian, who was believed to have originated in Sicily and whose oldest temple was there) and King Ferdinand of Sicily."Ferdinandea", however, was not acceptable to other nations and was dropped. Ceres was called Hera for a short time in Germany. In Greece, it is called Demeter (Δήμητρα), after the Greek equivalent of the Roman Cerēs; in English, that name is used for the asteroid 1108 Demeter.
The regular adjectival forms of the name are Cererian and Cererean,derived from the Latin genitive Cereris, but Ceresian is occasionally seen for the goddess (as in the sickle-shaped Ceresian Lake), as is the shorter form Cerean.
The old astronomical symbol of Ceres is a sickle, ⟨⚳⟩ (
Cerium, a rare-earth element discovered in 1803, was named after Ceres.In the same year another element was also initially named after Ceres, but when cerium was named, its discoverer changed the name to palladium, after the second asteroid, 2 Pallas.
The categorization of Ceres has changed more than once and has been the subject of some disagreement. Johann Elert Bode believed Ceres to be the "missing planet" he had proposed to exist between Mars and Jupiter, at a distance of 419 million km (2.8 AU) from the Sun. Ceres was assigned a planetary symbol, and remained listed as a planet in astronomy books and tables (along with 2 Pallas, 3 Juno, and 4 Vesta) for half a century.
As other objects were discovered in the neighborhood of Ceres, it was realized that Ceres represented the first of a new class of objects.In 1802, with the discovery of 2 Pallas, William Herschel coined the term asteroid ("star-like") for these bodies, writing that "they resemble small stars so much as hardly to be distinguished from them, even by very good telescopes". As the first such body to be discovered, Ceres was given the designation 1 Ceres under the modern system of minor-planet designations. By the 1860s, the existence of a fundamental difference between asteroids such as Ceres and the major planets was widely accepted, though a precise definition of "planet" was never formulated.
The 2006 debate surrounding Pluto and what constitutes a planet led to Ceres being considered for reclassification as a planet.A proposal before the International Astronomical Union for the definition of a planet would have defined a planet as "a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid-body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (b) is in orbit around a star, and is neither a star nor a satellite of a planet". Had this resolution been adopted, it would have made Ceres the fifth planet in order from the Sun. This never happened, however, and on 24 August 2006 a modified definition was adopted, carrying the additional requirement that a planet must have "cleared the neighborhood around its orbit". By this definition, Ceres is not a planet because it does not dominate its orbit, sharing it as it does with the thousands of other asteroids in the asteroid belt and constituting only about a third of the mass of the belt. Bodies that met the first proposed definition but not the second, such as Ceres, were instead classified as dwarf planets.
Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt. ... By [its] definition, Eris, Haumea, Makemake and Pluto, as well as the largest asteroid, 1 Ceres, are all dwarf planets", and describes it elsewhere as "the dwarf planet–asteroid 1 Ceres". NASA continues to refer to Ceres as an asteroid, as do various academic textbooks.It is sometimes assumed that Ceres has been reclassified as a dwarf planet, and that it is therefore no longer considered an asteroid. For example, a news update at Space.com spoke of "Pallas, the largest asteroid, and Ceres, the dwarf planet formerly classified as an asteroid", whereas an IAU question-and-answer posting states, "Ceres is (or now we can say it was) the largest asteroid", though it then speaks of "other asteroids" crossing Ceres' path and otherwise implies that Ceres is still considered an asteroid. The Minor Planet Center notes that such bodies may have dual designations. The 2006 IAU decision that classified Ceres as a dwarf planet never addressed whether it is or is not an asteroid. Indeed, the IAU has never defined the word 'asteroid' at all, having preferred the term 'minor planet' until 2006, and preferring the terms 'small Solar System body' and 'dwarf planet' after 2006. Lang (2011) comments "the [IAU has] added a new designation to Ceres, classifying it as a dwarf planet.
| a |
|e||i|| Period |
| Osculating |
(Epoch 23 July 2010 )
Ceres follows an orbit between Mars and Jupiter, within the asteroid belt, with a period of 4.6 Earth years.The orbit is moderately inclined (i = 10.6° compared to 7° for Mercury and 17° for Pluto) and moderately eccentric (e = 0.08 compared to 0.09 for Mars).
The diagram illustrates the orbits of Ceres (blue) and several planets (white and gray). The segments of orbits below the ecliptic are plotted in darker colors, and the orange plus sign is the Sun's location. The top left diagram is a polar view that shows the location of Ceres in the gap between Mars and Jupiter. The top right is a close-up demonstrating the locations of the perihelia (q) and aphelia (Q) of Ceres and Mars. In this diagram (but not in general), the perihelion of Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun from those of Ceres and several of the large main-belt asteroids, including 2 Pallas and 10 Hygiea. The bottom diagram is a side view showing the inclination of the orbit of Ceres compared to the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
Ceres was once thought to be a member of an asteroid family.The asteroids of this family share similar proper orbital elements, which may indicate a common origin through an asteroid collision some time in the past. Ceres was later found to have spectral properties different from other members of the family, which is now called the Gefion family after the next-lowest-numbered family member, 1272 Gefion. Ceres appears to be merely an interloper in the Gefion family, coincidentally having similar orbital elements but not a common origin.
Ceres is in a near-1:1 mean-motion orbital resonance with Pallas (their proper orbital periods differ by 0.2%).However, a true resonance between the two would be unlikely; due to their small masses relative to their large separations, such relationships among asteroids are very rare. Nevertheless, Ceres is able to capture other asteroids into temporary 1:1 resonant orbital relationships (making them temporary trojans) for periods up to 2 million years or more; fifty such objects have been identified.
Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars can all appear to cross the Sun, or transit it, from a vantage point on Ceres. The most common transits are those of Mercury, which usually happen every few years, most recently in 2006 and 2010. The most recent transit of Venus was in 1953, and the next will be in 2051; the corresponding dates are 1814 and 2081 for transits of Earth, and 767 and 2684 for transits of Mars.
The rotation period of Ceres (the Cererian day) is 9 hours and 4 minutes. It has an axial tilt of 4°. This is small enough for Ceres's polar regions to contain permanently shadowed craters that are expected to act as cold traps and accumulate water ice over time, similar to the situation on the Moon and Mercury. About 0.14% of water molecules released from the surface are expected to end up in the traps, hopping an average of 3 times before escaping or being trapped.
Ceres has a mass of 9.39×1020 kg as determined from the Dawn spacecraft. With this mass Ceres composes approximately a third of the estimated total 3.0 ± 0.2×1021 kg mass of the asteroid belt, which is in turn approximately 4% of the mass of the Moon. Ceres is massive enough to give it a nearly spherical, equilibrium shape. Among Solar System bodies, Ceres is intermediate in size between the smaller Vesta and the larger Tethys. Its surface area is approximately the same as the land area of India or Argentina. In July 2018, NASA released a comparison of physical features found on Ceres with similar ones present on Earth.
Ceres is the smallest object confirmed to be in hydrostatic equilibrium, being 600 km smaller and less than half the mass of Saturn's moon Rhea, the next smallest such object. Modeling has suggested Ceres could have a small metallic core from partial differentiation of its rocky fraction.
The surface composition of Ceres is broadly similar to that of C-type asteroids.Some differences do exist. The ubiquitous features in Ceres' IR spectrum are those of hydrated materials, which indicate the presence of significant amounts of water in its interior. Other possible surface constituents include iron-rich clay minerals (cronstedtite) and carbonate minerals (dolomite and siderite), which are common minerals in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites. The spectral features of carbonates and clay minerals are usually absent in the spectra of other C-type asteroids. Sometimes Ceres is classified as a G-type asteroid.
Ceres' surface is relatively warm. The maximum temperature with the Sun overhead was estimated from measurements to be 235 K (approximately −38 °C, −36 °F) on 5 May 1991. Ice is unstable at this temperature. Material left behind by the sublimation of surface ice could explain the dark surface of Ceres compared to the icy moons of the outer Solar System.
Studies by the Hubble Space Telescope reveal that graphite, sulfur, and sulfur dioxide are present on Ceres's surface. The former is evidently the result of space weathering on Ceres's older surfaces; the latter two are volatile under Cererian conditions and would be expected to either escape quickly or settle in cold traps, and are evidently associated with areas with recent geological activity.
Prior to the Dawn mission, only a few surface features had been unambiguously detected on Ceres. High-resolution ultraviolet Hubble Space Telescope images taken in 1995 showed a dark spot on its surface, which was nicknamed "Piazzi" in honor of the discoverer of Ceres.This was thought to be a crater. Later near-infrared images with a higher resolution taken over a whole rotation with the Keck telescope using adaptive optics showed several bright and dark features moving with Ceres' rotation. Two dark features had circular shapes and were presumed to be craters; one of them was observed to have a bright central region, whereas another was identified as the "Piazzi" feature. Visible-light Hubble Space Telescope images of a full rotation taken in 2003 and 2004 showed eleven recognizable surface features, the natures of which were then undetermined. One of these features corresponds to the "Piazzi" feature observed earlier.
These last observations indicated that the north pole of Ceres pointed in the direction of right ascension 19 h 24 min (291°), declination +59°, in the constellation Draco, resulting in an axial tilt of approximately 3°. Dawn later determined that the north polar axis actually points at right ascension 19 h 25 m 40.3 s (291.418°), declination +66° 45' 50" (about 1.5 degrees from Delta Draconis), which means an axial tilt of 4°.
Dawn revealed that Ceres has a heavily cratered surface; nevertheless, Ceres does not have as many large craters as expected, likely due to past geological processes. 80-kilometer (50 mi) crater called Occator. From images taken of Ceres on 4 May 2015, the secondary bright spot was revealed to actually be a group of scattered bright areas, possibly as many as ten. These bright features have an albedo of approximately 40% that are caused by a substance on the surface, possibly ice or salts, reflecting sunlight. A haze periodically appears above Spot 5, the best known bright spot, supporting the hypothesis that some sort of outgassing or sublimating ice formed the bright spots. In March 2016, Dawn found definitive evidence of water molecules on the surface of Ceres at Oxo crater.An unexpectedly large number of Cererian craters have central pits, perhaps due to cryovolcanic processes, and many have central peaks. Ceres has one prominent mountain, Ahuna Mons; this peak appears to be a cryovolcano and has few craters, suggesting a maximum age of no more than a few hundred million years. A later computer simulation has suggested that there were originally other cryovolcanoes on Ceres that are now unrecognisable due to viscous relaxation. Several bright spots have been observed by Dawn, the brightest spot ("Spot 5") located in the middle of an
On 9 December 2015, NASA scientists reported that the bright spots on Ceres may be related to a type of salt, particularly a form of brine containing magnesium sulfate hexahydrite (MgSO4·6H2O); the spots were also found to be associated with ammonia-rich clays. Na
3) and smaller amounts of ammonium chloride (NH
4Cl) or ammonium bicarbonate (NH
3). These materials have been suggested to originate from the recent crystallization of brines that reached the surface from below.
Organic compounds (tholins) were detected on Ceres in Ernutet crater,and most of the planet's surface is extremely rich in carbon, with approximately 20% carbon by mass in its near surface. The carbon content is more than five times higher than in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites analyzed on Earth. The surface carbon shows evidence of being mixed with products of rock-water interactions, such as clays. This chemistry suggests Ceres formed in a cold environment, perhaps outside the orbit of Jupiter, and that it accreted from ultra-carbon-rich materials in the presence of water, which could provide conditions favorable to organic chemistry. Its presence on Ceres is evidence that the basic ingredients for life can be found throughout the universe.
"Spot 1" (top row) ("cooler" than surroundings);
"Spot 5" (bottom) ("similar in temperature" as surroundings) (April 2015)
This article needs to be updated.April 2019)(
Ceres is thought to consist of a rocky core overlain with an icy mantle and crust. Shape (oblateness) and gravity-field measurements by Dawn confirm that Ceres is in hydrostatic equilibrium and is partially differentiated, [ better ref needed ]with isostatic compensation and a mean moment of inertia of 0.37 (which is similar to that of Callisto at ~0.36). Ceres may be up to 25% water by mass, which is more water than there is on Earth.
One study estimated the densities of the core and mantle/crust to be 2.46–2.90 and 1.68–1.95 g/cm3, with the mantle and crust being 70–190 km thick. Only partial dehydration (expulsion of ice) from the core is expected, while the high density of the mantle relative to water ice reflects its enrichment in silicates and salts. That is, the core, mantle and crust all consist of rock and ice, though in different ratios.
A second studymodeled Ceres as having two layers, a core of chondrules and a mantle of mixed ice and micron-sized solid particulates ("mud"). Sublimation of ice at the surface would leave a deposit of hydrated particulates perhaps 20 meters thick. There are range to the extent of differentiation that is consistent with the data, from a large, 360-km core of 75% chondrules and 25% particulates and a mantle of 75% ice and 25% particulates, to a small, 85-km core consisting nearly entirely of particulates and a mantle of 30% ice and 70% particulates. With a large core, the core–mantle boundary should be warm enough for pockets of brine. With a small core, the mantle should remain liquid below 110 km. In the latter case, a 2% freezing of the liquid reservoir would compress the liquid enough to force some to the surface, producing cryovolcanism. This may be compared to estimates that Ceres has averaged one cryovolcano every 50 million years.
The mineral composition can only be determined indirectly for the outer 100 km. The 40-km thick solid outer crust is a mixture of ice, salts, and hydrated minerals. Under that is a layer that may contain a small amount of brine. This extends to a depth of at least the 100-km limit of detection. Under that is thought to be a mantle dominated by hydrated rocks such as clays. It is not possible to tell if Ceres' deep interior contains liquid or a core of dense material rich in metal.
There are indications that Ceres has a tenuous water vapor atmosphere outgassing from water ice on the surface.
Surface water ice is unstable at distances less than 5 AU from the Sun,so it is expected to sublime if it is exposed directly to solar radiation. Water ice can migrate from the deep layers of Ceres to the surface, but escapes in a very short time. As a result, it is difficult to detect water vaporization. Water escaping from polar regions of Ceres was possibly observed in the early 1990s but this has not been unambiguously demonstrated. It may be possible to detect escaping water from the surroundings of a fresh impact crater or from cracks in the subsurface layers of Ceres. Ultraviolet observations by the IUE spacecraft detected statistically significant amounts of hydroxide ions near Ceres' north pole, which is a product of water vapor dissociation by ultraviolet solar radiation.
In early 2014, using data from the Herschel Space Observatory , it was discovered that there are several localized (not more than 60 km in diameter) mid-latitude sources of water vapor on Ceres, which each give off approximately 1026 molecules (or 3 kg) of water per second. Two potential source regions, designated Piazzi (123°E, 21°N) and Region A (231°E, 23°N), have been visualized in the near infrared as dark areas (Region A also has a bright center) by the W. M. Keck Observatory. Possible mechanisms for the vapor release are sublimation from approximately 0.6 km2 of exposed surface ice, or cryovolcanic eruptions resulting from radiogenic internal heat or from pressurization of a subsurface ocean due to growth of an overlying layer of ice. Surface sublimation would be expected to be lower when Ceres is farther from the Sun in its orbit, whereas internally powered emissions should not be affected by its orbital position. The limited data available was more consistent with cometary-style sublimation; however, subsequent evidence from Dawn strongly suggests ongoing geologic activity could be at least partially responsible.
Studies using Dawn's gamma ray and neutron detector (GRaND) reveal that Ceres is accelerating electrons from the solar wind regularly; although there are several possibilities as to what is causing this, the most accepted is that these electrons are being accelerated by collisions between the solar wind and a tenuous water vapor exosphere.
In 2017, Dawn confirmed that Ceres has a transient atmosphere that appears to be linked to solar activity. Ice on Ceres can sublimate when energetic particles from the Sun hit exposed ice within craters.
Ceres is possibly a surviving protoplanet (planetary embryo), which formed 4.57 billion years ago in the asteroid belt. Although the majority of inner Solar System protoplanets (including all lunar- to Mars-sized bodies) either merged with other protoplanets to form terrestrial planets or were ejected from the Solar System by Jupiter, Ceres is thought to have survived relatively intact. An alternative theory proposes that Ceres formed in the Kuiper belt and later migrated to the asteroid belt. The discovery of ammonia salts in Occator crater supports an origin in the outer Solar System. However, the presence of ammonia ices can be attributed to impacts by comets, nevertheless, ammonia salts are more likely to be native to the surface. Another possible protoplanet, Vesta, is less than half the size of Ceres; it suffered a major impact after solidifying, losing ~1% of its mass.
The geological evolution of Ceres was dependent on the heat sources available during and after its formation: friction from planetesimal accretion, and decay of various radionuclides (possibly including short-lived extinct radionuclides such as aluminium-26). These are thought to have been sufficient to allow Ceres to differentiate into a rocky core and icy mantle soon after its formation.This process may have caused resurfacing by water volcanism and tectonics, erasing older geological features. Ceres's relatively warm surface temperature implies that any of the resulting ice on its surface would have gradually sublimated, leaving behind various hydrated minerals like clay minerals and carbonates.
Today, Ceres has become considerably less geologically active, with a surface sculpted chiefly by impacts;nevertheless, evidence from Dawn reveals that internal processes have continued to sculpt Ceres's surface to a significant extent, in stark contrast to Vesta and of previous expectations that Ceres would have become geologically dead early in its history due to its small size. The presence of significant amounts of water ice in its crust and evidence of recent geological resurfacing, raises the possibility that Ceres has a layer of liquid water in its interior. This hypothetical layer is often called an ocean. If such a layer of liquid water exists, it is hypothesized to be located between the rocky core and ice mantle like that of the theorized ocean on Europa. The existence of an ocean is more likely if solutes (i.e. salts), ammonia, sulfuric acid or other antifreeze compounds are dissolved in the water.
Although not as actively discussed as a potential home for microbial extraterrestrial life as Mars, Europa, Enceladus, or Titan, there is evidence that Ceres' icy mantle was once a watery subterranean ocean, and that has led to speculations that life could have existed there,and that hypothesized ejecta bearing microorganisms could have come from Ceres to Earth. The remote detection of organic compounds and the presence of water with 20% carbon by mass in its near surface, could provide conditions favorable to organic chemistry.
When in opposition near its perihelion, Ceres can reach an apparent magnitude of +6.7.This is generally regarded as too dim to be visible to the naked eye, but under ideal viewing conditions, keen eyes with 20/20 vision may be able to see it. The only other asteroids that can reach a similarly bright magnitude are 4 Vesta and, when in rare oppositions near their perihelions, 2 Pallas and 7 Iris. When in conjunction, Ceres has a magnitude of around +9.3, which corresponds to the faintest objects visible with 10×50 binoculars; thus it can be seen with such binoculars in a naturally dark and clear night sky around new moon.
Some notable observations and milestones for Ceres include the following:
In 1981, a proposal for an asteroid mission was submitted to the European Space Agency (ESA). Named the Asteroidal Gravity Optical and Radar Analysis (AGORA), this spacecraft was to launch some time in 1990–1994 and perform two flybys of large asteroids. The preferred target for this mission was Vesta. AGORA would reach the asteroid belt either by a gravitational slingshot trajectory past Mars or by means of a small ion engine. However, the proposal was refused by ESA. A joint NASA–ESA asteroid mission was then drawn up for a Multiple Asteroid Orbiter with Solar Electric Propulsion (MAOSEP), with one of the mission profiles including an orbit of Vesta. NASA indicated they were not interested in an asteroid mission. Instead, ESA set up a technological study of a spacecraft with an ion drive. Other missions to the asteroid belt were proposed in the 1980s by France, Germany, Italy, and the United States, but none were approved.Exploration of Ceres by fly-by and impacting penetrator was the second main target of the second plan of the multiaimed Soviet Vesta mission, developed in cooperation with European countries for realisation in 1991–1994 but canceled due to the Soviet Union disbanding.
In the early 1990s, NASA initiated the Discovery Program, which was intended to be a series of low-cost scientific missions. In 1996, the program's study team recommended as a high priority a mission to explore the asteroid belt using a spacecraft with an ion engine. Funding for this program remained problematic for several years, but by 2004 the Dawn vehicle had passed its critical design review.
It was launched on 27 September 2007, as the space mission to make the first visits to both Vesta and Ceres. On 3 May 2011, Dawn acquired its first targeting image 1.2 million kilometers from Vesta. km, four months prior to the New Horizons flyby of Pluto.After orbiting Vesta for 13 months, Dawn used its ion engine to depart for Ceres, with gravitational capture occurring on 6 March 2015 at a separation of 61,000
Dawn's mission profile called for it to study Ceres from a series of circular polar orbits at successively lower altitudes. It entered its first observational orbit ("RC3") around Ceres at an altitude of 13,500 km on 23 April 2015, staying for only approximately one orbit (fifteen days). The spacecraft subsequently reduced its orbital distance to 4,400 km for its second observational orbit ("survey") for three weeks, then down to 1,470 km ("HAMO;" high altitude mapping orbit) for two months and then down to its final orbit at 375 km ("LAMO;" low altitude mapping orbit) for at least three months. The spacecraft instrumentation includes a framing camera, a visual and infrared spectrometer, and a gamma-ray and neutron detector. These instruments examined Ceres' shape and elemental composition. On 13 January 2015, Dawn took the first images of Ceres at near-Hubble resolution, revealing impact craters and a small high-albedo spot on the surface, near the same location as that observed previously. Additional imaging sessions, at increasingly better resolution took place on 25 January 4, 12, 19, and 25 February 1 March, and 10 and 15 April.
Dawn's arrival in a stable orbit around Ceres was delayed after, close to reaching Ceres, it was hit by a cosmic ray, making it take another, longer route around Ceres in back, instead of a direct spiral towards it.
The Chinese Space Agency is designing a sample-return mission from Ceres that would take place during the 2020s.
15 km (10 mi) of elevation separate the lowest crater floors (indigo) from the highest peaks (white).
The following imagemap of the dwarf planet Ceres is divided into 15 quadrangles. They are named after the first craters whose names the IAU approved in July 2015.The map image(s) were taken by the Dawn space probe.
|RC3||1st||23 April 2015 – 9 May 2015||13,500 km (8,400 mi)||15 days||1.3||24×|
|Survey||2nd||6 June 2015 – 30 June 2015||4,400 km (2,700 mi)||3.1 days||0.41||73×|
|HAMO||3rd||17 August 2015 – 23 October 2015||1,450 km (900 mi)||19 hours||0.14 (140 m)||217×|
|LAMO/XMO1||4th||16 December 2015 – 2 September 2016||375 km (233 mi)||5.5 hours||0.035 (35 m)||850×|
|XMO2||5th||5 October 2016 – 4 November 2016||1,480 km (920 mi)||19 hours||0.14 (140 m)||217×|
|XMO3||6th||5 December 2016 – 22 February 2018||7,520–9,350 km|
|≈8 days||0.9 (est)||34× (est)|
|XMO4||7th||22 April 2017 – 22 June 2017||13,830–52,800 km|
|XMO5||8th||30 June 2017 – 16 April 2018||4,400–39,100 km|
|XMO6||9th||14 May 2018 – 31 May 2018||440–4,700 km|
|XMO7 (FINAL)||10th||6 June 2018 – present||35–4,000 km|
The Solar System is the gravitationally bound planetary system of the Sun and the objects that orbit it, either directly or indirectly. Of the objects that orbit the Sun directly, the largest are the eight planets, with the remainder being smaller objects, such as the five dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies. Of the objects that orbit the Sun indirectly—the moons—two are larger than the smallest planet, Mercury.
Juno is an asteroid in the asteroid belt. Juno was the third asteroid discovered, in 1804, by German astronomer Karl Harding. It is the 11th-largest asteroid, and one of the two largest stony (S-type) asteroids, along with 15 Eunomia. It is estimated to contain 1% of the total mass of the asteroid belt.
Adeona is a large asteroid from the intermediate asteroid belt, approximately 150 kilometers in diameter. Its surface is very dark, and, based upon its classification as a C-type asteroid, is probably composed of primitive carbonaceous material. The spectra of the asteroid displays evidence of aqueous alteration. The Adeona family of asteroids is named after it.
A facula, Latin for "little torch", is literally a "bright spot". The term has several common technical uses. It is used in planetary nomenclature for naming certain surface features of planets and moons, and is also a type of surface phenomenon on the Sun. In addition, a bright region in the projected field of a light source is sometimes referred to as a facula, and photographers often use the term to describe bright, typically circular features in photographs that correspond to light sources or bright reflections in a defocused image.
1000 Piazzia, provisional designation 1923 NZ, is a carbonaceous background asteroid from the outer region of the asteroid belt, approximately 48 kilometers in diameter. It was discovered on 12 August 1923, by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth at Heidelberg Observatory in southern Germany. The C-type asteroid has a rotation period of 9.5 hours. It was named after Italian Giuseppe Piazzi, who discovered 1 Ceres.
A dwarf planet is a planetary-mass object that is neither a true planet nor a natural satellite. That is, it is in direct orbit of a star, and is massive enough for its gravity to compress it into a hydrostatically equilibrious shape, but has not cleared the neighborhood of other material around its orbit.
Extraterrestrial liquid water is water in its liquid state that naturally occurs outside Earth. It is a subject of wide interest because it is recognized as one of the key prerequisites for life as we know it and thus surmised as essential for extraterrestrial life.
The geology of solar terrestrial planets mainly deals with the geological aspects of the four terrestrial planets of the Solar System – Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars – and one terrestrial dwarf planet: Ceres. Earth is the only terrestrial planet known to have an active hydrosphere.
Rheasilvia is the most prominent surface feature on the asteroid Vesta and is thought to be an impact crater. It is 505 km (314 mi) in diameter, which is 90% the diameter of Vesta itself, and is 95% the mean diameter of Vesta, 529 km (329 mi). However, the mean is affected by the crater itself. It is 89% the mean equatorial diameter of 569 km (354 mi), making it one of the largest craters in the Solar System, and at 75°S latitude, covers most of the southern hemisphere. The peak in the center of the crater rises 22.5 km (14.0 mi) from its base, making it the tallest mountain known in the Solar System.
A planetary surface is where the solid material of the outer crust on certain types of astronomical objects contacts the atmosphere or outer space. Planetary surfaces are found on solid objects of planetary mass, including terrestrial planets, dwarf planets, natural satellites, planetesimals and many other small Solar System bodies (SSSBs). The study of planetary surfaces is a field of planetary geology known as surface geology, but also a focus of a number of fields including planetary cartography, topography, geomorphology, atmospheric sciences, and astronomy. Land is the term given to non-liquid planetary surfaces. The term landing is used to describe the collision of an object with a planetary surface and is usually at a velocity in which the object can remain intact and remain attached.
Ahuna Mons is the largest mountain on the dwarf planet and asteroid Ceres. It protrudes above otherwise smooth terrain, it is not an impact feature, and it appears to be the only mountain of its kind on Ceres. Bright streaks run top to bottom on its slopes; these streaks are thought to be salt, similar to the better known Cererian bright spots, and likely resulted from cryovolcanic activity from Ceres's interior. It is named after the traditional post-harvest festival Ahuna of the Sumi Naga people of India. In July 2018, NASA released a comparison of physical features, including Ahuna Mons, found on Ceres with similar ones present on Earth. In June 2019, scientists reported that Ahuna Mons may have been formed by a plume of mud ejected from deep within the planet.
Occator is an impact crater located on Ceres that contains "Spot 5", the brightest of the bright spots observed by the Dawn spacecraft. It was known as "Region A" in ground-based images taken by the W. M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea.
The geology of Ceres consists of the characteristics of the surface, the crust and the interior of the dwarf planet Ceres. The surface of Ceres is comparable to the surfaces of Saturn's moon Rhea and Tethys, and Uranus's moon Umbriel and Oberon.
the numbering of "dwarf planets" does not preclude their having dual designations in possible separate catalogues of such bodies.
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