Ceres: What Lies Beneath

CeresCeres may have had a global ocean in the past. What happened to that ocean and whether Ceres could still have liquid within it are the focus of two new studies using data from NASA’s Dawn mission. Using shape and gravity data measurements from Dawn to determine the internal structure and composition of Ceres, a studyled by Anton Ermakov, a postdoctoral researcher at JPL, supports the possibility that Ceres was recently (and may still be) geologically active. The other study, led by Roger Fu at Harvard University, investigated the strength and composition of Ceres’ crust and deeper interior by studying topographic data and modeling the flow of Ceres’ crust. The researchers believe Ceres once had more pronounced surface features, such as mountains and valleys, but they have smoothed out over time. This smoothing suggests Ceres has a high-strength crust that rests on a more deformable layer, likely caused by the presence of a little bit of liquid.