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Subsurface Water Shaped Dwarf Planet Ceres

ceres
 
Ceres’s surface globally contains materials that were altered by the action of liquid water within the interior of the dwarf planet, nuclear spectroscopy data from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft shows.
 
Dawn’s Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector (GRaND) instrument measured the concentrations of iron, hydrogen potassium on the surface of Ceres.  The elemental data show that materials were processed by liquid water within the interior, said PSI Senior Scientist Thomas H. Prettyman. 
 
Prettyman is lead author of the Science paper “Extensive water ice within Ceres’ aqueously altered regolith: Evidence from nuclear spectroscopy.” 
 
Ceres’ uppermost surface is rich in hydrogen, with higher concentrations at mid-to-high latitudes, which is consistent with the presence of vast expanses of near-surface water ice. The ice table is closest to the surface at high latitudes.
 
"On Ceres, ice is not just localized to a few craters. It's everywhere, and nearer to the surface with higher latitudes," said Prettyman, principal investigator of the GRaND instrument. “These results confirm predictions made nearly three decades ago that ice can survive for billions of years within a meter of the surface of Ceres. The evidence strengthens the case for the presence of near-surface water ice on other main belt asteroids.”
  
Visit www.psi.edu/news/cereshydrogen to see video animations depicting the distribution of hydrogen on Ceres.
 
Paper co-authors include PSI scientists Yuki Yamashita, William C. Feldman and Hanna G. Sizemore.
 
May 15, 2017

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