Space & Astronomy
Mystery surrounds missing craters on Ceres
July 26, 2016 | 3 comments
Ceres has proven quite mysterious. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Scientists have been attempting to determine why the dwarf planet Ceres has no large craters at all.
The closest of all known dwarf planets, Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It was visited for the first time back in 2015 by NASA's Dawn spacecraft which returned copious amounts of data including photographs of mysterious bright spots on the planet's surface which were believed to be the result of briny water sublimating and leaving salt deposits behind.
These surface anomalies however are not the only mysteries on Ceres.
Scientists analyzing the planet's surface features quickly realized that while there are numerous small craters dotted around, larger craters exceeding 250 miles across are totally absent.
"Ceres is thought to have formed at the dawn of the solar system, some one to ten million years or so after the onset of formation," said researcher Simone Marchi.
"Thus, Ceres is a witness to the tumultuous early days where collisions were much more frequent and violent than today."
So how did this tiny world manage to avoid being hit ?
The answer, scientists believe, is that it didn't - it was hit just as predicted. The reason the craters are missing now is because some form of geological process must have filled them in afterwards.
Cryovolcanoes spewing out icy water from the planet's interior could help to explain this.
Source: The Guardian
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