Ceres’ bright spots come from salty water


Images of the Oktater crater on Ceres, the largest dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The pit has white deposits of white area. Several images – seen in false color – were pieced together here to create this animated scene. Image via NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA.

In 2015, when Don was approaching the spacecraft Ceres, he spied some mysterious bright spots on the surface of this dwarf planet. something Ceres was so reflective that, for a time, the audience joked about the alien lights. The scientists were surprised at first, wondering what the contemplation was. It was discovered that there are many bright spots on Ceres, and they are now known to accumulate salt on the surface of this small world, mostly composed of sodium carbonate. The scientists said the spots may have come from liquid that had spread to the surface of Ceres and evaporated leaving a salt crust behind. But where percolated? In October 2018, as Don’s mission was coming to an end, the spacecraft was submerged less than 22 miles (35 km) from the surface of Ceres. The craft saw new details in bright areas that now enable scientists to explain the origins of bright spots.

Dawn scientists say the saline liquid on Ceres ‘surface comes from salty water or salt-rich water, deep in Ceres’ interior. Scientists say that this brine reservoir is about 25 miles (40 km) deep and hundreds of miles wide. Ceres is less than 600 miles (1,000 km) by itself. So, in other words, Ceres is now considered a relatively large internal reservoir of Briny Water.

The findings, which also reveal the extent of geological activity in the Octeter crater – home to the most famous bright spots in Ceres – appear in a special collection of published papers by Nature astronomy, Nature Geoscience, And Nature communication On August 10, 2020.

A round, gray, crescent moon-like planet with two very small, very bright spots.

In 2015, as NASA’s Dawn spacecraft approached the dwarf planet Ceres, it saw 2 strange bright spots on the surface of Ceres. Viewers joked about “foreign headlights”, but could not yet explain the spot. Now they are known to have relatively recent salt deposits. The image is from February 19, 2015, obtained from a distance of approximately 29,000 miles (46,000 km). It turns out that the brightest spot in Ceres has a misty companion, located in the same crater, now called the Oktator Crater. Image via NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA.

Large and small bright white patches on a gray pit surface.

The bright spots of Ceres (less than the International Space Station above Earth) at a distance of 240 miles (385 km) just above its surface. Image via NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA.

Oblique view of a pit on irregular terrain with very bright white patches.

An image of the Okter crater – and bright spots – is draped over a digital terrain model, which provides a 3-D-like perspective view. Image via NASA / JPL.

Ceres – rebuilt as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2006, at the same time Pluto was removed from full planetary position – the first asteroid called Ceres and the first asteroid discovered in 1801.

Long before Don’s arrival in 2015 there were signs of bright areas on Ceres. Through telescopes, scientists had focused on spreading bright regions of an unknown nature on dwarf planets. The statement of the scientists states:

… It was known that micrometrites often melt the surface of Ceres, rough it and leave debris. Over time, such action should deepen these bright areas. So their brightness indicates that they are young. Trying to understand the source of the regions, and how the content could be so new, it was the main focus of Dawn’s last extended mission from 2017 to 2018.

From his close orbit, Don captures detailed images of two distinct, highly reflective areas within the Okator crater, which are later described as Cerelia fakula and Vinalia facule (“Fesula” means bright field).

Research not only confirmed that the bright areas are young, some at least 2 million years old. It was also found that the geological activity driving these deposits could be ongoing. This conclusion relies on scientists making an important finding: a salt compound (sodium chloride chemically bound with water and ammonium chloride) that is concentrated in the Cerealia facula. Scientists explained:

On the surface of Ceres, water-bearing salts quickly dehydrate within hundreds of years. But Don’s measurements show that they still have water, so liquids must have reached the surface recently. This evidence is both for the presence of liquid below the area of ​​the crater and for the transfer of material from the surface to the deep interior.

In our solar system, icy geostationary activity occurs primarily on icy moons, where it is driven by their gravitational relationship with their larger planets. But this is not so with the movement of the brine to the surface of Ceres, because this small world is not particularly near any large bodies in space that can drag on it. Instead, scientists found two main pathways that allow fluids from the interior of Ceres to reach its surface. Dawn chief investigator Carol Raymond said:

For large deposits in the Cerealia facula, the heat of the crater forming effect about 20 million years ago supplied a large bulk of salts just below the molten surface. The impact heat subsided after a few million years; However, the effect also created large fractures that could reach deep, long-lived reservoirs, allowing brine to continue to the surface.

The discovery of this currently ongoing activity on Ceres – this movement of luminous water from the interior to its surface suggests that there are other large ice-rich bodies in our solar system No The moons may also be active.

The mountainous, irregular landscape with pink markings mostly on an elevation in the middle.

This mosaic image uses false paint to expose recently exposed saline or saline fluids, which were pushed upward from a deep reservoir under the Ceres crust. In this view of an area of ​​the Oktator crater, they appear red. Image via NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA

Dawn is the only spacecraft that orbits two supernatural sites: Ceres and the giant asteroid Vesta. This dual mission was made possible by Don’s ion propulsion system. Explanation of the statement of scientists:

When Dawn used the last of the Hydrazines, a major fuel for its fuel-controlling system, it was neither able to point to the earth for communication nor its power over the Sun to generate electricity. To indicate solar arrays. Because Ceres was found to have organic matter on its surface and liquid below the surface, the planetary safety rules required the Dawn to be placed in a long-term orbit that would prevent it from affecting the dwarf planet for decades.

NASA’s Dawn mission director Mark Ramon said in a statement:

When we embark on its extraordinary supernatural campaign, Don expected more from it. These exciting new discoveries from the end of their long and productive mission are a wonderful tribute to this remarkable interplanetary explorer.

A somewhat lumpy pit floor with a steep crater wall in the distance.

This mosaic of the Ceres Octeter crater is composed of images captured by NASA’s Dawn mission in 2018 on its second extended mission. Bright pits and mounds (foregrounds) were created by the saline liquid released in the form of octose water-rich frize following the crite-forming effect. About 20 million years ago. Image via NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA / USRA / LPI.

Bottom Line: Scientists studying the data of the spacecraft Dawn now say that salt accumulates on the surface of Ceres, which comes from deep, salty or salt-rich water reserves in the interior of the dwarf planet. This saline reservoir is estimated to be about 25 miles (40 km) deep and hundreds of miles wide … less than 600 miles (1,000 km) notable in the world.

Source (archive): XM2 in octave crater

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Deborah Bird

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