Ceres Could Potentially Livable?

Astronomy Science ~ A NASA probe spacecraft for the first time will take a close look an alien worlds potentially habitable. In March 2015...

Astronomy Science ~ A NASA probe spacecraft for the first time will take a close look an alien worlds potentially habitable. In March 2015, NASA's Dawn spacecraft arrived in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the main asteroid belt located between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres is the object relatively warm and wet eligible equated with the Jovian moon Europa and Saturn's moon Enceladus, both of which may be capable of supporting life as we know it, researchers said.

"I think, Ceres is very interesting in terms of astrobiology to alien worlds potentially habitable," said Jian-Yang Li, from the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. Life as we know it requires three main ingredients, liquid water, an energy source and certain chemical building blocks (ie, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogenous, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur).

The dwarf planet Ceres, also the largest asteroid in the solar system, which is seen in the amazing view of the Hubble telescope. In March 2015, NASA's Dawn spacecraft is expected to enter orbit around Ceres to study the object.
The dwarf planet Ceres, also the largest asteroid in the solar system, which is seen in the amazing view of the Hubble telescope. In March 2015, NASA's Dawn spacecraft is expected to enter orbit around Ceres to study the object.
The dwarf planet Ceres, which has a width of 590 miles (950 kilometers) is estimated to have plenty of water, based on a low overall density (2:09 grams per cubic centimeter, compared to Earth with 5.5 g / cubic cm). Ceres objects are distinguished by the possibility of a rocky core and a mantle composed of ice.

In fact, the water appears to make up about 40 percent of the volume of Ceres', said Li. "Ceres is actually the largest water reservoir in the inner solar system other than Earth," he said. However, it is unclear at this point how much.

As for energy, Ceres has access to a decent amount of energy through solar heating, as the dwarf planet is located only 2.8 astronomical units (AU) from the sun, said Li. (One AU is the distance between Earth and the sun - about 93 million miles or 150 million km). Europa and Enceladus farther than our Sun - each about 5.2 and 9 AU.

But Europa and Enceladus has an internal heat, which is generated by tidal forces. This heat makes ocean water under the ice covered surface and also encourage the eruption of water vapor at Enceladus (and maybe also the Europa, researchers announced last year that Hubble saw water vapor erupting from the moons of Jupiter in December 2012). Interestingly, the scientists also announced the discovery of water vapor emission from Ceres - which also might have an ocean under its surface - earlier this year.

Bursts of steam in Ceres' may or may not be evidence of internal heat, said Li. For example, they may occur when water ice near the surface of Ceres' heated by the sun and warm enough to gush into space. "Currently, we do not know much about the release of gases in Ceres," said Li.

Dawn will help bring Ceres into clearer focus when it reaches this object this spring. The spacecraft is orbiting massive asteroid Vesta from July 2011 until September 2012, will map the surface of Ceres' in detail and send a lot of information about the geology and thermal conditions of Ceres.

Ground-based instruments should also play a role in veil of Ceres. For example, the Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array, or ALMA has the ability to probe deeper than Dawn, go to the bottom surface of Ceres' and devote more information about the composition and thermal properties of dwarf planet, said Li. "This highly complementary Dawn mission," he said. Ceres' relatively close to Earth also make it an attractive target for space missions in the future, said Li added.
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Astronomy Science: Ceres Could Potentially Livable?
Ceres Could Potentially Livable?
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