NASA: Dwarf Planet Ceres is Full of Water -- Life Outside Earth Possible?
NASA scientists has revealed that Ceres, a dwarf planet located between Mars and Jupiter, has lots of water deposits on its icy surface.
According to the study published in the journal Nature, date from NASA's Dawn spacecraft reveal that 10 percent of the dwarf planet's surface is made of water which is frozen into ice.
According to scientists, this new discovery sheds light on how the solar system is formed. Thomas Prettyman, one of the study's researchers, said that Ceres' composition is more akin to the icy moons of Saturn and Jupiter, Enceladus and Europa. It is also different from Vesta, the second largest object in the asteroid belt, as Vesta is drier than Ceres.
"By finding bodies that were water-rich in the distant past, we can discover clues as to where life may have existed in the early solar system," said Carol Raymond, lead scientists of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, via Reuters.
With the discovery of water on Ceres, scientists say that Ceres may be included as a candidate of possible life harboring words in the universe. It also makes the dwarf planet a possible water mining sites for robotic and future human expeditions.
"On Ceres, ice is not just localized to a few craters. It's everywhere, and nearer to the surface with higher latitudes," Prettyman told Phys.org. "These results confirm predictions made nearly three decades ago that ice can survive for billions of years just beneath the surface of Ceres. The evidence strengthens the case for the presence of near-surface water ice on other main belt asteroids."