Dwarf planets have high mountains, too. In 2015, the Dawn spacecraft arrived at the dwarf planet Ceres and photographed this giant, Ahuna Mons.
In addition to eight planets, the solar system also contains five dwarf planets. These are Pluto, Eris, Makemake, Haumea, and Ceres. Ceres is the only dwarf planet in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Other dwarf planets are in the Kuiper belt beyond the orbit of Neptune.
Most asteroids in the main belt have an irregular shape. Ceres is very large with a diameter of 950 kilometers and therefore has a convex shape, just like all the planets and many moons. Until 2015, little was known about the dwarf planet, but thanks to the Dawn mission, scientists have learned a lot about this special celestial body.
For example, Ceres has Mt. This is very special, because otherwise Ceres is as good as a flat. At first it was not clear how the four-kilometer mountain arose. “No one expected a mountain on Ceres, and certainly not a mountain like Ahuna Mons,” said researcher Chris Russell. Later, scientists discovered that the mountain Created by cold volcanoes.
Looking at the image below of Ahuna Mons, it looks like someone dug a hole in Ceres and didn’t clear the mound next to it.
Bright spots in Ceres
The Dawn space probe discovered even more unusual structures. This is how the spacecraft collides On the mysterious bright spots on the surface of the dwarf planet. “We can conclude that the extreme brightness of these spots is caused by the reflection of sunlight from a highly reflective material on the surface, possibly ice,” said researcher Christopher Russell. White spots are rich in sodium carbonate. This soda ash comes from Ceres’ saline aquifers. This makes Ceres somewhat similar to some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, which are also water-rich worlds.
in 2018 The curtain fell on the dawn. The spacecraft ran out of fuel after an 11-year journey. The probe is currently orbiting the “lifeless” dwarf planet and will not crash on Ceres for decades to come. This way the surface remains unaffected.
Although Dawn herself is retired, the spacecraft leaves behind a huge amount of data that will keep researchers busy for some time to come. “Dawn data sets will be examined to investigate where and when life exists in our solar system,” said Carol Raymond, lead study author.
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