Belters Rejoice. Craters on Ceres Mapped
Ceres dwarf planet

NASA is showing off again and reminding me I need to give The Expanse another watch. The Dawn probe has successfully mapped the craters on Ceres that could accumulate ice. Guess that means a few Belters will have to go check that out in the future.

Norbert Schorghofer, a researcher at the University of Hawaii and guest investigator on the Dawn mission, explained in a recent news release:

“Ceres has just enough mass to hold on to water molecules, and the permanently shadowed regions we identified are extremely cold — colder than most that exist on the moon or Mercury.”

The current theory is the dwarf planet’s craters have been cold enough to trap ice for billions of years. If true, ice deposits could exist in several of the newly mapped craters.

Ceres mountain

It all lies in the permanently shadowed areas of Ceres. Dubbed cold traps, these regions of the craters never see direct sunlight. Long theorized, but Dawn proved Ceres has 695 square miles of permanently shadowed terrain. Its largest cold trap is in a crater near the dwarf planet’s north pole.

“On Ceres, these regions act as cold traps down to relatively low latitudes,” said Erwan Mazarico, also a Dawn guest investigator at Goddard. “On the moon and Mercury, only the permanently shadowed regions very close to the poles get cold enough for ice to be stable on the surface.”

How quickly do ice deposits develop? According to computer simulations, one out of every 1,000 water molecules ends up in a cold trap. If the simulations are correct, Ceres would have measurable, but thin, ice deposits in 100,000 years.

It explains why the residents of Ceres on The Expanse need regular shipments of ice from Saturn’s Rings to maintain the colony.

Read more about the study over at NASA and check out the lesser known craters of Ceres.

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Your Daily Dose of the Best the Internet Has to Offer

You May Also Like

A Tiny Satellite Headed to Mars Looks Back at Earth

A few days after launching from the California coast, a satellite about…

An Upgraded SpaceX Boat Will Try to Catch a Rocket Fairing During Wednesday’s Launch (UPDATE)

Tomorrow morning’s launch has all the SpaceX goodness we’ve come to expect.…

New Horizons Gets Its First Glimpse of 2014 MU69 (aka Ultima Thule)

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is just over four months away from passing…

Curiosity Rover Stays Busy as Dust Storm Rages on Mars, Snaps Selfie

A Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator means NASA’s Curiosity rover always stays busy, dust…

SpaceX Nails It Again, Successfully Places 10 Iridium NEXT Satellites Into Low-Earth Orbit

This morning’s launch marks the 24th successful launch in a row for…