Landslide On Asteroid Ceres Resembles The Simpsons' Character Bart

Posted: Apr 18 2017, 2:34pm CDT | by , Updated: Apr 18 2017, 2:42pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Landslide on Asteroid Ceres Resembles The Simpsons' Character Bart
A landslide on Ceres surface that looks similar to fictional characte Bart Simpson. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Researchers have found that Ceres contains massive landslides similer to those seen on Earth

Landslides are not unique to Earth. Dwarf planet Ceres also contains a number of landslides similar to those found on Earth and it adds to the growing evidence that water ice is hiding beneath its surface.

Ceres is a dwarf planet and the largest asteroid in the solar system yet known. It lies on asteroid belt between the orbit of Mars and Jupiter and has been a subject of immense interest over the years.

Using data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, researchers have identified three different types of landslides on Ceres. Type I landslides are relatively round and large and look similar to the glaciers and icy landslides in Earth's arctic. These landslides are mostly found on high altitudes and researchers believe that landslides on this region harbor more water ice than any other part of Ceres.

“Landslides cover more area in the poles than at the equator, but most surface processes generally don't care about latitude,” said lead study author Britney Schmidt from Georgia Tech and a member of Dawn Science Team. "That's one reason why we think its ice affecting the flow processes. There's no other good way to explain why the poles have huge, thick landslides; mid-latitudes have a mixture of sheeted and thick landslides; and low latitudes have just a few."

Type II landslides are the most common of landslides on Ceres. They are thinner and longer than Type I and cover mid-latitudes of the asteroid. Researchers have named one such landslide “Bart” because of its striking resemblance to Bart Simpson – a fictional character from popular animated sitcom “The Simpsons.”

Type III landslides are mostly found on low elevation areas and are usually caused by rapid flow of material from large impact craters. Researchers believe that about 20 percent to 30 percent of craters greater than 6 miles wide have some type of landslide associated with them, indicating widespread distribution of landslides on Ceres surface.

The landslides on Ceres allow researchers to gain insight into the materials underneath the surface and how they relate to the structure of the asteroid.

"It's just kind of fun that we see features on this small planet that remind us of those on the big planets, like Earth and Mars," said Schmidt. "It seems more and more that Ceres is our innermost icy world."

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