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Plumes of water discovered on Ceres


Posted on Thursday, 23 January, 2014 | Comment icon 10 comments

Artist's concept image of Dawn approaching Ceres. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Scientists have discovered signs of water on Ceres, an icy dwarf planet located in the asteroid belt.
Measuring 950km in diameter and located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres is the smallest and closest dwarf planet ever discovered. Now scientists observing the icy world through the Herschel Space Observatory have identified what look like plumes of water spewing from its surface.

The well-timed discovery coincides with the upcoming exploration of Ceres by NASA's Dawn spacecraft which is due to arrive in orbit around it next year. The enigmatic world has proven a tantalizing target for scientists who are hoping that Dawn's visit will discover more about how it came to be there and where the water plumes could be coming from.

One theory suggests that there could be a layer of ice just beneath the surface that is heated by the sun, causing the water to erupt in the form of ice volcanoes.

"It makes Ceres a more exciting target," said ESA's Michael Kuppers.

Source: ABC News | Comments (10)

Tags: Ceres, Dawn

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Xynoplas on 22 January, 2014, 20:16
We will know much more in 2015: http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/feature_stories/Dawn_Fills_Out_Ceres_Dance_Card.asp
Comment icon #2 Posted by keithisco on 23 January, 2014, 8:15
January 22, 2014 Scientists using the Herschel space observatory have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt, Ceres. Plumes of water vapor are thought to shoot up periodically from Ceres when portions of its icy surface warm slightly. Ceres is classified as a dwarf planet, a solar system body bigger than an asteroid and smaller than a planet. Herschel is a European Space Agency (ESA) mission with important NASA contributions. Read More, Coutesy JPL: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2014-020&1&utm_source=iC... [More]
Comment icon #3 Posted by Paranomaly on 24 January, 2014, 0:23
Expanding our knowledge of the universe is awesome!
Comment icon #4 Posted by jeaflor on 24 January, 2014, 2:12
At the risk of violating some mysterious rules against discussing religion I want to point out that the Book of Genesis records that God placed a layer of water vapor around the earth. Genesis 1:7-8 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. Firmament/heaven in this usage simply means the sky/earth’s atmosphere. This water vapor precipitated out at the time of Noah’s Flood. Now, since nobody here seems to... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 24 January, 2014, 2:26
At the risk of violating some mysterious rules against discussing religion There is nothing mysterious about our rules. We ask that topics not be threads not be taken off topic and that members don't preach. Your post breaks both these rules. If you wish to discuss religion there are sections for you to do that. This section is for science discussions. Thank you.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Xynoplas on 24 January, 2014, 18:30
Anyway, the vapor is barely visible; it's not surprising that a little should be present. Don't comets at that solar distance begin to have tails? Maybe this is just NASA trying to stir up interest in their project. Ceres as a harbor for extraterrestrial life is an extreme long shot. Its water is as frozen as it gets, with no possibility of tidal heating as you would in a moon in orbit around a gas giant.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Erowin on 13 February, 2014, 18:07
Space whales
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 13 February, 2014, 19:02
Space whales Yes, very good. You do know what vapour is don't you?
Comment icon #9 Posted by psyche101 on 14 February, 2014, 4:22
2 Questions, if I may ask Waspie: 1 - Why is Ceres not shown on typical depictions of the solar system when Pluto often rates a mention before and after the demotion to Dwarf Planet? As per: And 2 - Where does all the water come from? From the link: “We estimate that approximately 6 kg of water vapour is being produced per second, requiring only a tiny fraction of Ceres to be covered by water ice, which links nicely to the two localised surface features we have observed,” If it has been doing this for 4 billion years or thereabouts, it would have to be getting low on water would it not?
Comment icon #10 Posted by Xynoplas on 14 February, 2014, 21:56
If it has been doing this for 4 billion years or thereabouts, it would have to be getting low on water would it not? So is your conclusion that the measurements are mistaken, or do you believe that some other factor is at work? As I said, the probe will doubtless teach us more about this.


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