Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ice plume explanation for Ceres?

Bright spots on Ceres could be active ice : Nature News & Comment

“What is amazing is that you can see the feature while the rim is still in the line of sight,” said Andreas Nathues, a planetary scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany. Nathues, who leads the team for one of the Dawn cameras, showed
the images on 17 March at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.

At dawn on Ceres, feature number 5 appears bright. By dusk, it seems to fade. That could
mean sunlight plays an important role — for instance, by heating up ice just beneath the surface and causing it blast off in some kind of plume r other feature.

Ceres is believed to be made of at least one-quarter ice, more so than most asteroids. Dawn’s goals to figure out where that ice resides and what role it plays in shaping the asteroid’s surface. One idea is that the ice is blanketed by a very thin layer of soil. The ice may occasionally squirt up in towering ‘cryovolcanoes’, thanks to internal pressures within the asteroid.
An asteroid made of 1/4 ice?   Might be a good place for settlement then, except for the fact there is next to no gravity, I suppose.

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