Solar System

Dwarf planet Ceres is a really icy place, NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows

Dwarf planet Ceres is a really icy place, NASA's Dawn spacecraft shows

Think of an asteroid, and a dry, rocky body may spring to mind. But Ceres, king of the asteroid belt, is helping to throw cold water on that stereotype. Whether frozen in the permanent shadows of its polar craters or mixed into its icy surface layers, water appears to abound on the dwarf planet.

Two different findings based on data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, presented at last week’s American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, may fill out a portrait of the frigid dwarf planet and could help shed light on its internal evolution.

As the largest member of the main belt, the rocky ring of debris that lies between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, Ceres can...

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