In DepthPlanetary Science

Dawn probe to look for a habitable ocean on Ceres

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  20 Feb 2015:
Vol. 347, Issue 6224, pp. 813-814
DOI: 10.1126/science.347.6224.813

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


It is the largest body in the asteroid belt, yet Ceres is not an asteroid. Nor is it a planet. Ceres is a dwarf planet, and like its more famous cousin in the outer solar system, Pluto, Ceres harbors a lot of ice. This has astrobiologists salivating at the arrival of NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which will begin orbiting Ceres on 6 March. Scientists suspect that Ceres was massive enough for its rock and ice to separate into layers. There is evidence that Ceres's icy mantle was once a watery subterranean ocean, and there are hints that this liquid may remain even today. Dawn will map the surface, seeking evidence that this liquid occasionally erupted at that surface.