A couple of icy volcanoes have been spotted on the surface of Ceres by NASA’s Dawn Mission.
The dwarf world that is Ceres is quite a sophisticated and beautiful place to look at in close-up form as NASA’s Dawn Mission did so recently. In fact, it is totally different from any other site in the entire solar system.
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NASA’s Dawn spacecraft took relatively rare pics of the surface of Ceres that showed ice-covered volcanoes. These were probably active on Ceres in the recent past. Ceres’ crust shows many features that have hardly been seen before by astronomers or astrophysicists.
The crust is a strange amalgam of ice and rock. Half a dozen novel studies were published online regarding Ceres. The spacecraft honed in on Ceres and while the ground control back at home was expecting a few surprises, they were not exactly ready to be shocked.
Ceres is a world that has seen geological activity in a similar manner to the earth’s upheavals. The really flabbergasting fact is that all this occurred in the not too distant past. The interior of Ceres evolved, changed and underwent cataclysmic transformations.
Its evolutionary history lies midway between that of the smaller asteroids and our home planet, the earth. How things coalesced to form Ceres is a marvelous story that will take a book to narrate completely.
The Dawn Mission began its journey in September of 2007. It cost a whopping $467 million to get it off the ground and into the environment of outer space.
The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter which contains Vesta and Ceres was the main target of the mission. Dawn hovered near Vesta between 2011 and 2012. Then it made a beeline for Ceres.
It arrived up, close and personal to Ceres in March 2015. Thus it became the first probe to venture beyond the earth-moon axis and visit two different heavenly bodies.
Vesta was a frozen world. Ceres was the real mystery wrapped in an enigma. It turned out to be an active and dynamic place. Its diversity and complexity far outmatched Vesta.
The icy volcanoes on its surfaces were quite a sight to gaze at in admiration. The “cryomagma” that lies in these volcanoes is yet to be fully examined for what it actually consists of.
Some say it could be a mixture of chlorine salts and water ice. The dome-shaped volcanoes are proof that while Ceres is cold, it hasn’t completely cooled down just yet. There is still some fiery matter left inside it. In this it resembles Pluto.