An ice volcano was photographed on Ceres

(Mirror Daily, United States) The scientific community has news from NASA’s spacecraft which studies Dwarf Planet Ceres. It seems like the relief of the planet is ruled by an ice volcano. Researchers are analyzing several pictures of what seems to be mountain peaks.

The NASA spacecraft which gathered the information on planet Ceres is called Dawn. Its mission started approximately one year ago, and these aren’t the first pieces of information that the researchers receive from it. The spacecraft took more than fifty thousand photos of the planet, including high-resolution images revealing the orbits. The initial plan was not for Dawn to spend so much time in space, but technical difficulties actually resulted in a prolonged and fruitful mission.

Some of the pictures show Ceres’ North and South poles. The spacecraft also made it possible for researchers to observe that there is ice both on the surface and under the surface of the planet. Other pictures reveal information on Ceres’ relief, composed of craters and mountains. Ice is to be found inside some of the craters too.

The recent images are concerned with a so-called ice volcano. There is a structure resembling a mountain, which has a hole on top of it. Just like volcanoes on Earth are filled with lava, this space volcano is filled with ice.

The ice volcano is called Ahuna Mons, and researchers believe it can reveal more valuable information on the evolution and geology of the planet. They also think that this mountain is a relatively young structure, of no more than two hundred million years. It must have formed because ice under the surface pushed the ground above, scientists say.

Dawn took photos of almost the entire surface of the planet, to a percentage of 99.9. The are also colored images, and they are not only of the planet but also of the spatial environment around it.

Ceres is placed on the asteroid belt between the orbits of two other planets, namely Jupiter and Mars. Scientists also inform us that the NASA spacecraft, Dawn, is 240 miles (385 kilometers) from the planet it spies on.

You can find more details on the ice volcano and other structures and features of dwarf planet Ceres on the journal Science.

Image courtesy of: Wikipedia