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Space & Astronomy

New data hints at water volcanoes on Ceres

By T.K. Randall
March 22, 2015 · Comment icon 237 comments

Could Ceres be home to a subterranean ocean of liquid water ? Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Scientists believe that the two mystery bright spots on Ceres could be water spewing in to space.
As NASA's Dawn spacecraft approached Ceres earlier this year one of its most tantalizing observations was of two unexplained bright spots which appeared inside a crater on its surface.

While the mystery has yet to be conclusively solved, new data returned by the probe has helped to shed some light on it.

Scientists now believe that these anomalous features could be an indication that there are erupting water volcanoes on Ceres.
Recent photographs of the phenomenon show that the bright spots can still be seen even when viewed from the side, suggesting that they protrude above the rim of the crater.

In addition to this the spots get brighter during the day and disappear at night, indicating that there could be a pocket of ice on the surface that is releasing gas when it is heated up by the sun.

While high-resolution photographs of the site won't be available until Dawn's orbit takes it closer to the surface, it's possible that, like Jupiter's moons of Europa and Ganymede, Ceres could be home to an ocean of liquid water hidden deep down beneath its icy shell.

Source: New Scientist | Comments (237)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #228 Posted by Occams Razor 9 years ago
Better still... there are also impact diamonds: https://en.wikipedia.../Popigai_crater According to this: https://en.wikipedia...s_(dwarf_planet) The composition of Ceres includes carbonates so maybe the bright spots are more likely to be diamonds. You'll have to figure out a way of getting there Astra. According to 'Waspie_Dwarf' Ceres is "a world made largely of salt water ice". If this is true it's unlikely ice is the cause of the bright spots as bright spots would be common all over the surface... it would look like it had shiny measles.
Comment icon #229 Posted by Merc14 9 years ago
Better still... there are also impact diamonds: https://en.wikipedia.../Popigai_crater According to this: https://en.wikipedia...s_(dwarf_planet) The composition of Ceres includes carbonates so maybe the bright spots are more likely to be diamonds. You'll have to figure out a way of getting there Astra. According to 'Waspie_Dwarf' Ceres is "a world made largely of salt water ice". If this is true it's unlikely ice is the cause of the bright spots as bright spots would be common all over the surface... it would look like it had shiny measles. I don't think you'd be getting either of those effec... [More]
Comment icon #230 Posted by Nnicolette 9 years ago
For once i agree with you merc there would have to be more than ice for the impact to have caused molten glass or Diamonds to form... and also they wouldnt still be sitting on top of the ice it would have at least melted in im guessing.
Comment icon #231 Posted by Merc14 9 years ago
For once i agree with you merc there would have to be more than ice for the impact to have caused molten glass or Diamonds to form... and also they wouldnt still be sitting on top of the ice it would have at least melted in im guessing. Come on NN, you agree with me ALL the time, you just won't admit it. I have to say that I am postulating here and if I am wrong then hopefully someone will chime in and set me/us straight but I can't see Ceres surface reacting like earth's desert to an impact. I'm thinking more like a frozen slushy with a dusty layer in an almost zero G, zero atmosphere, enviro... [More]
Comment icon #232 Posted by Astra- 9 years ago
The composition of Ceres includes carbonates so maybe the bright spots are more likely to be diamonds. Well that would make it one hell of an expensive crater - if that brilliant bright bling on Ceres are diamonds That's ok though - you are entitled to your opinion I'll stick with the possibility that the spots are a mixture of crystallized salt / ice at this time - especially since there are other bright - but less dense regions - in comparison to the crater. You'll have to figure out a way of getting there Astra. Why ? - I'd freeze to death
Comment icon #233 Posted by Occams Razor 9 years ago
For once i agree with you merc there would have to be more than ice for the impact to have caused molten glass or Diamonds to form... and also they wouldnt still be sitting on top of the ice it would have at least melted in im guessing. That's why I thought glass or diamonds... whatever it is will have to be pretty robust.
Comment icon #234 Posted by Occams Razor 9 years ago
That's ok though - you are entitled to your opinion No worries Astra... opinions are what forums are all about. Why ? - I'd freeze to death Because diamonds are a girl's best friend aren't they?
Comment icon #235 Posted by Astra- 9 years ago
Because diamonds are a girl's best friend aren't they? Well Marilyn Monroe might have thought so.But I'm a more pearls kinda gal
Comment icon #236 Posted by Hammerclaw 9 years ago
Well Marilyn Monroe might have thought so. But I'm a more pearls kinda gal But Diamonds are Forever! https://youtu.be/qPeSPB68i2c
Comment icon #237 Posted by Frank Merton 9 years ago
There are a lot of bizarre things it could be, but frozen brine seems most likely to me. As had been said so often, if you are in Kansas City and hear galloping animals out the window, don't assume zebra.


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