Ceres

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Ceres

Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and it is classified as a dwarf planet. It was discovered on January 1, 1801, by Giuseppe Piazzi, an Italian astronomer. Ceres is named after the Roman goddess of agriculture.

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Ceres has a diameter of approximately 940 kilometers, making it the largest of the minor planets within the orbit of Neptune. It has a mass of about 9.39 × 10^20 kg, which constitutes about one-third of the total mass of the asteroid belt. Ceres is composed of a mixture of water ice and various hydrated minerals such as carbonates and clays.

Surface and Composition[edit | edit source]

The surface of Ceres is a mixture of water ice and hydrated minerals like carbonates and clays. Observations from the Dawn spacecraft have revealed the presence of bright spots, which are thought to be deposits of sodium carbonate, indicating past hydrothermal activity.

Orbit and Rotation[edit | edit source]

Ceres orbits the Sun at an average distance of 2.77 astronomical units (AU). It has an orbital period of about 4.6 Earth years. Ceres has a relatively short rotation period of about 9 hours, making it one of the fastest rotating bodies in the asteroid belt.

Exploration[edit | edit source]

Ceres was visited by the Dawn spacecraft, which was launched by NASA in 2007. Dawn entered orbit around Ceres in March 2015, providing detailed images and data about its surface and composition. The mission has significantly enhanced our understanding of this dwarf planet.

Importance[edit | edit source]

Ceres is of great interest to scientists because it is believed to have a differentiated interior, with a rocky core and an icy mantle. This makes it a valuable object of study for understanding the early solar system and the processes that led to the formation of planets.

Related Pages[edit | edit source]

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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD