Thin Haze in Occator Crater on Ceres Can Be an Indicator of Presence of Frozen Water

Thin Haze in Occator Crater on Ceres Can Be an Indicator of Presence of Frozen Water

Ceres and its bright spots have baffled scientists since they were first discovered, now researchers through two new studies have found some news details about these bright spots that are found all over the dwarf planet’s surface.

In one of the study scientists claim that the bright spots on the surface of Ceres is a kind of salt. The second study shows the detection of ammonia-rich-clays on Ceres.

According to researchers when the sun shines into the Occator crater on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres, a thin haze appears above its brightest spot.

This thin haze is also visible in the images sent by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. The presence of this haze is an indicator of the presence of frozen water near the surface. The bright spots in the Occator crater might contain magnesium sulphates, a class of mineral salts, said researchers.

The new results show that since the birth of the solar system frozen water has been also to survive not only in its furthest reaches, but also in the comparatively close asteroid belt.

There is very thin line between the rocky planets of the inner Solar System and the gaseous giants. According to experts, about 4.5 billion years ago, water and other volatile substances evaporated from the regions close to the Sun leaving behind the inner planets Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars as dry, rocky worlds.

Occator is 60 miles in diameter, and its central pit, covered by the bright material, measures around 6 miles wide and 0.3 miles deep.

“The Dawn science team is still discussing these results and analyzing data to better understand what is happening at Occator”, said Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.