NASA's Dawn spacecraft finds traces of liquid ocean on dwarf planet Ceres
Washington : Dawn spacecraft by National Aeronautics and Space Administration ( NASA) has found traces of an ancient liquid ocean on a dwarf planet Ceres.
In a latest finding Ceres’ crust was found to be a mixture of ice, salts and hydrated materials, hinting towards the existence of ocean on the planet in ancient times. The researchers suggest that there is a softer, easily deformable layer beneath Ceres’ rigid surface crust, which could be the signature of residual liquid.
“More and more, we are learning that Ceres is a complex, dynamic world that may have hosted a lot of liquid water in the past, and may still have some underground,” said Julie Castillo-Rogez, Dawn project scientist based at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California.
NASA had launched Dawn mission, which is now exploring dwarf planet, in September 2007. According to its official website, the Dawn, "is the only spacecraft ever to orbit two destinations beyond Earth and the only to orbit an object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter."
It was expected that the mission will end in 2016, but it was later given a two-year extension to learn more about Ceres, the largest body in the asteroid belt.
The Dawn also found three craters here named Occator, Kerwan, and Yalode. The spacecraft captured images of Ceres' solitary tall mountain, Ahuna Mons. All these structures were deemed as “associated with gravity anomalies."
"Ceres has an abundance of gravity anomalies associated with outstanding geologic features," Ermakov said in the report.