News from Mar 15, 2018
Since March 2015, the space probe Dawn has been orbiting the dwarf planet Ceres in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. After eruptions of water vapor had earlier been observed by the space telescope Hubble, recent analyses of measurements and imagery from Dawn present further evidence for Ceres’ geological and chemical activity. Seasonal changes in water ice abundance at the northern wall of the Juling Crater and the presence of hydrated sodium carbonates point to recent changes in the Ceres’ surface. As hydrated sodium carbonates have never been found on any other planetary body, besides Earth, they reveal valuable information on the dwarf planet’s chemical evolution. The Dawn mission is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in cooperation with the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Italian National Astrophysical Institute (INAF).