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Has dwarf planet Ceres been erasing its craters?

by • July 25, 2016 • No Comments

Much like Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise without its shields, when you are a planet without an atmosphere, space can be a dangerous place – especially in the earlier days of our Solar System’s formation. With lots of asteroids floating around, chances are excellent which a few doozies are going to smack into you. That is most likely the case with dwarf planet Ceres, but its surface will not show any craters sizeabler than 175 miles (280 kilometers) across. So what happened to the evidence? It looks like Ceres has been erasing it.

Scientists got their initially truly up-close view of Ceres in December of last year as the Dawn spacecraft created its closest approach to the mini-planet which’s the tinyest dwarf in our solar system, but the biggest object in the asteroid belt.

Choosing data of Dawn, researchers were surprised to see the relatively tiny dimensions of Ceres’ craters. Choosing modeling, by their calculations, the dwarf planet should have of 10 to 15 craters on its surface sizeabler than 250 mi (400 km) in diameter. In fact, preceding arriving at Ceres, Dawn visited the protoplanet Vesta and showed it to contain a crater which measures 300 mi (500 km) wide.

A new study in the journal Nature Communications posits which the lack of sizeable craters on Ceres comes of its one-of-a-kind composition.

Previously, Dawn announced which Ceres’ upper layers most likely hold ice and which its famed bright spots are most likely salt deposits left over of water under the surface which swelled upwards. A subsurface of ice or water may not just erupt and alter the dwarf planet’s surface, it may in addition allow the rough surface itself to smooth out as it moves on the less-dense material at a lower place, thus erasing the craters.

“If Ceres had widespread cryovolcanic activity in the past – the eruption of volatiles such as water – these cryogenic materials in addition may have flowed across the surface, probably burying pre-existing sizeable craters,” says NASA.

Vesta isn’t believed to have at any time had a liquid core, so which may explain why its sizeable crater is yet visible.

“The capacity to compare these two quite various worlds in the asteroid belt – Vesta and Ceres – is one of the excellent strengths of the Dawn mission,” said lead investigator Simone Marchi, a senior research scientist at the Southwest Research Institute.

“Whatat any time the system or systemes were, this obliteration of sizeable craters must have occurred over sat any timeal hundred millions of years,” he introduced.

This brief video offers a bit additional insight into the study.

Source: NASA

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