Ceres gets Salty
December 9, 2015 11:11 PM   Subscribe

Cloudy, with a chance of cryovolcanoes - unraveling the secrets of the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres, including the mysterious bright spots.
posted by Artw (9 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Physicist: Where'd it get the ammonia?
Astronomer: It collected it.
Physicist: Collected it? In the asteroid belt? Ammonia's volatile!
Astronomer: What do you mean?
Physicist: Well, the solar flux is too intense.
Astronomer: Comets have nuclei of ice, and interstellar clouds contain methanol, yet these are not strangers to our solar system.
Physicist: Are you saying dwarf planets migrate?!
Astronomer: Not at all, they could be carried ...
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:49 AM on December 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Nice! I've had a Google News alert for ceres + dawn for a while now, hoping for an explanation of those bright spots (and really hoping they were due to alien life forms).

Did You Know? Ceres has its own symbol: ⚳ (U+26B3) <9907>
posted by sidereal at 5:36 AM on December 10, 2015

Here's a lecture from Carol Raymond, deputy PI on Ceres and the Dawn mission, from October.
posted by Devonian at 6:16 AM on December 10, 2015

I'm not even gonna read it. Mysterious bright spots never turn out to be dome cities or continent-sized bioluminescent sky jellyfish or anything else good. There's always some perfectly fucking reasonable mundane explanation. Wake me when it's jellyfish and quit toying with my emotions.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 8:05 AM on December 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

I was driving into Kings Canyon in the Sierras with my cousin the engineer. High on the gray walls were big, white areas. I had assumed the canyon is granite by the color. Cousin Jack explained the canyon walls are limestone, dirtied and oxidized to gray. The bright spots are spall marks where rock has fallen and broken off old oxidized surface to reveal the white limestone underneath.

When I saw pictures of the bright spots they looked like impacts to me where the top layer of space dust has been disturbed to reveal what the material looks like clean. I think it might take a long time to get that gray in space. By my flawed chair monger logic, Pluto is younger than Ceres. Well, or Ceres gets around more. Whatever they say the under coating is not limestone, it is bath salts. Cool what you find in the hood.
posted by Oyéah at 11:46 AM on December 10, 2015

I'm not even gonna read it.

Don't worry. The ridiculous Scientific American reading format would have kept you from doing so regarless.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:15 PM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I read all of it easily on Android. That set of really bright spots looked like a big impact, bounce and skid. It must have been a wonderful event to see. Now torn open to the surface changes it off gases like a comet. If I could do it again in this present day, it would be science and math.
posted by Oyéah at 12:53 PM on December 10, 2015

Man, Salty Ceres were my favorite snack when I was a kid. I must have eaten hundreds of bags of that stuff in front of the TV. I wonder why they stopped making it?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:42 PM on December 10, 2015

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