NASA spacecraft finds dwarf planet Ceres is packed full of water

The dwarf planet Ceres is full of surprises. There's the 2.5-mile high ice volcano, for example, and all those salty, shiny bright spots that stumped researchers for a few months. According to a new study, Ceres has another point of interest: lots and lots of water. The water's discovery was made by the NASA Dawn spacecraft, and researchers have found that much of it lies in the dwarf planet's darkest craters and norther regions.

As expected, the dwarf planet's water presently exists as ice; however, the water was once liquid during Ceres' warmer days. This water can be found within hydrated minerals and in the various pockets and pores on the planet, including its craters. We've previously heard suggestions that Ceres' darkest regions may be home to large quantities of water, and that notion has been confirmed.

Some parts of Ceres contain more water than others, though it doesn't seem there's any spot where it would be terribly difficult to find ice. The north pole region is very heavily filled with ice, while places further down around the equator would require digging a few feet through ground surface to find ice.

The dwarf planet has hundreds of craters that are perpetually in darkness, and some of those craters contain water ice. Researchers determined that based on bright areas near the crater's bottom, indicating the presence of ice.

Speaking about the presence of ice, Dawn spacecraft's GRaND principal investigator Thomas Prettyman said, "On Ceres, ice is not just localized to a few craters. It's everywhere, and nearer to the surface with higher latitudes." You can read a full study looking into the dwarf planet's water composition here.


Image via NASA