Planetary Science

Bright spots on Ceres may contain water

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Science  15 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6270, pp. 237-238
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6270.237-g

When NASA's Dawn spacecraft reached the dwarf planet Ceres in March 2015, there arose an immediate puzzle: What are the bright white spots located inside several surface craters? Natheus et al. have analyzed data from Dawn's camera and conclude that the most likely candidate is deposits of hydrated magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt): a compound that contains water. One crater called Occator fills with a haze each day, which disappears at night, probably caused by clouds of evaporated water. Deposits of salt and water ice just below the surface could be uncovered by impacts and provide clues to how Ceres was formed.

Nature 528, 237 (2015).

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