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A water-rich world in the inner solar system-that isn't Earth

Written by  Wednesday, 13 April 2022 09:21
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Washington DC (SPX) Apr 13, 2022
Dwarf planet Ceres is becoming a new research focus in the recent field of ocean worlds science. It is the only large, water-rich body that has been characterized to an extraordinary level of detail thanks to NASA's Dawn mission. But what does all this research mean and where do we go from here? In Ceres: An Ice-Rich World in the Inner Solar System, Drs. Li and Castillo-Rogez provide a tho

Dwarf planet Ceres is becoming a new research focus in the recent field of ocean worlds science. It is the only large, water-rich body that has been characterized to an extraordinary level of detail thanks to NASA's Dawn mission. But what does all this research mean and where do we go from here?

In Ceres: An Ice-Rich World in the Inner Solar System, Drs. Li and Castillo-Rogez provide a thorough review of the current state of knowledge about Ceres after the Dawn mission, including an assessment of its astrobiological significance and the roadmap to its future exploration.

Ceres synthesizes Dawn's discoveries and addresses how they changed our view of Ceres. Before the Dawn mission, the nature of Ceres had remained mysterious, although the dwarf planet's large water content had been known since the 1970s. The recent investigation of Ceres by Dawn revealed tremendous similarities between Ceres and the outer solar system icy moons and dwarf planets, such as an ice-rich crust, expressions of cryovolcanic activity, and the occurrence of organics and salts.

More intriguingly, Dawn discovered evidence for recent activity driven by salt-rich liquids sourced from the deep interior. The presence of liquid and organic matter in Ceres bears important implications for astrobiology and even more so as Ceres may be representative of the population of outer solar system bodies that brought in volatiles and organics to the terrestrial planets.

The book starts with a historical overview of the exploration of Ceres before Dawn, from its discovery in the 19th century to extensive characterization with telescopic research over the past fifty years.

After an overview of the Dawn mission, this book synthesizes various aspects of Dawn's discoveries, including surface composition, geology, expressions of water ice, interior structure, and recent activity. The astrobiological significance of Ceres inferred from this new knowledge is then addressed. The book concludes with a summary of open questions and motivations for follow-on research and exploration.

The sixth volume in the Advances in Planetary Science series, this book is intended to be a primary reference for Ceres both for planetary scientists and graduate students.

Ceres: An Ice-Rich World in the Inner Solar System retails for US$98 and is also available in electronic formats.


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