Ceres and Ammonia

Ceres from 240 kmThe Dawn spacecraft has moved into its lowest planed orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres. This picture of a chain of craters called Gerber Catena was take from an altitude of 385 km.

In early December, the Dawn science team announced that the bright material found in such notable craters as Occator is consistent with salt and suggested that a type of magnesium sulfate called hexahydrite may be present. The Dawn team has also found that ammoniated clays are present on Ceres. Because ammonia is abundant in the outer solar system, this could mean that Ceres was formed in the vicinity of Neptune and migrated inward during the early life of the Solar System.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Image Credit: NASA

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