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CosmosUp | April 20, 2019

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Did You Know? Dwarf Planet Ceres

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Did You Know? Dwarf Planet Ceres

Ceres was classified as a dwarf planet, but it’s also considered an asteroid. Discovered on January 1, 1801 by Giuseppe Piazzi, Ceres has a diameter of 950 km and it is by far the largest and most massive asteroid from the asteroid belt, containing one third of the total mass of the asteroid belt.

Its surface, probably, contains a mixture of frozen water and various mineral and beneath it, is likely to be an ocean of liquid water makes it a possible target in the search for extraterrestrial life.

After discovering the trans Neptunian object – Eris, it was proposed to bring Ceres the status of planet along with Charon and Eris. However, on 24 August 2006, another proposal made Ceres to become a dwarf planet. It is not known if they will keep Ceres at the status of asteroid.

Ceres lies about 2.8 Astronomics Units from the Sun, that is mean 419 million km. It’s Size and weight are sufficient to give it a spherical shape, so it has a hydrostatic equilibrium, one of the important characteristics of dwarf planets.

There are indices that Ceres would have a thin atmosphere and on the surface exist frozen water. Ceres orbits the Sun once every 4.6 years. The orbit is slightly inclined and moderately eccentric. Ceres has a magnitude of about 6.7 and can thus be easily observed with an amateur telescope, with binoculars or in exceptional circumstances, with the naked eye.

Ceres is a major member of the solar system and learning about it is intriguing. You never go wrong with new knowledge.

Said Fred Taylor, Halley professor of physics at Oxford University.

Bottom line: Dawn delves into the unknown and achieves what’s never been attempted before. A mission in NASA’s Discovery Program, Dawn orbited and explored the giant protoplanet Vesta in 2011-2012, and now it is in orbit and exploring a second new world, dwarf planet Ceres.



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