Scientists find water on dwarf planet Ceres
The 950km-wide Ceres sits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter
Scientists recently confirmed signs of water on the dwarf planet – or, depending on definition – massive asteroid Ceres, according to observations published on Thursday in science journal Nature.
“Now we have really for the first time discovered water in the asteroid belt,” said the report’s lead author Michael Küppers, a planetary scientist based in Spain with the European Space Agency, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
The 950km-wide Ceres sits in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and is currently the only known as the only dwarf planet in the inner solar system.
But much like Pluto, Ceres soon lost its title when astronomers realized that it was not alone: It was sitting in a massive field of asteroids. Ceres was then named the largest among them.
By using the European Space Agency’s powerful Herschel Space Observatory, the team of scientists looked at the chemical fingerprint of full water molecules, and noticed water coming from two dark spots on opposite sides of the dwarf planet.
The scientists measured water coming off Ceres at a rate of 6kg per second. The amount of ice packed into the Ceres’ mantle would mean that its contents could add up to more fresh water than exists on Earth.