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The biggest body in our asteroid belt, dwarf planet Ceres has enchanted our thoughts ever since NASA's Dawn space-craft sent back images of bright, strange spots on Ceres surface back in the year 2015. Those secretive spots have since been believed as little more than large salt areas, but researchers have now exposed that Ceres is hiding an even more fascinating secret, it is seems to be covered in huge craters of water ice, hidden just under its surface. Yes, our new favorite dwarf planet (sorry Pluto) has been hiding huge storage of ice from us all along. It is well known that Ceres is sheltered in shadowy craters, dark, many of which are located so that they not ever see the day-light. But scientists across two discrete papers published last week have exposed that perhaps many of them or at least one of these craters are occupied with water ice.

That explains the dwarf planet, which is positioned in the main asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, could one day serve as a refueling base for operations heading deep into our Solar System. "There are over 600 obstinately dark areas on Ceres," as said by one of the scientists who worked across both appears, from the University of Hawai’i Norbert Schorghofer said "I call it Ceres' shadiest secret." The idea that Ceres contain water-ice just under the surface was first made by researchers 30 years ago, but until now, we have not had the proof to back it up. When the Dawn space-craft started rotation in the orbit of dwarf planet in March 2015, the main attention was primarily on its weird bright spots instead of dark craters. Dawn's Framing Camera captured scatter light coming from PSR2 (a carter) near north-pole of Ceres and the data reveal that it is covered with a huge sheet of water ice.

These shady craters are called 'cold traps', sighted as they hold temperatures lower than 163 degrees Celsius (110 kelvin and 260 Fahrenheit). This means they are so cold that very little ice kept in them is likely to turn into vapor, after billions of years. So far, PSR2 is the only crater scientists have achieved to look inside using ‘Dawn's Infrared Mapping Spectrometer’ but the group also noticed bright spots on the surface of 10 other permanently dark craters which could likely be proof of more water ice. Thomas Prettyman leading scientist from the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona said that "On Ceres, water ice is not localized to a few craters only. It is nearer and everywhere to the surface with higher latitudes.” "These results approve estimates made nearly 30 years ago that water ice can survive for billions of years just under the surface of Ceres."

The way gamma rays and neutrons are scattered can express scientists from what the material of surface is made of. The group proposes that rather than Ceres having a solid layer of water ice sheltering it, the water ice and rocky materials while ice has filled its pores. Based on this proof, it is more probably than ever that in the main asteroid belt other asteroid could possess ice just under their surface which is splendid news for space researchers who want to mine asteroids for hydrogen on the way to more detached planets. "The proof supports the case for the occurrence of near surface ice on other main belt asteroids," said by Thomas Prettyman. The study also shelters light on which types of rocky objects in the Solar System could probably still have water ice or once had it. Deputy principal-investigator of NASA's Dawn mission ‘Carol Raymond’ said that "By discovering objects that were water rich in the past, we can expose signs as to where life may have existed in the early Solar-System." “We are fascinated in how this ice managed to last so long and how this ice got there," said by Schorghofer. "It could have come from Ceres' ice rich crust, or it could have been conveyed from space."
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