Starts With A Bang

Ceres’ Permanent Shadows May House Relics From The Infant Solar System (Synopsis)

Image credit: NASA DAWN mission / DLR / German Aerospace Center.

“Lots of science fiction deals with distant times and places. Intrepid prospectors in the Asteroid Belt. Interstellar epics. Galactic empires. Trips to the remote past or future.” -Edward M. Lerner

Of all the asteroids we’ve ever discovered, it’s arguably the very first one, Ceres, that’s got the most to teach us. Currently being mapped at higher and higher resolution by NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft, Ceres isn’t just the largest asteroid we’ve got, it’s also one of the least inclined, orbiting the Sun with a tilt of just 3 degrees.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA, from the DAWN mission.

This means, much like the Moon, that there’s a chance it has permanently shadowed craters at its poles, possibly containing volatile materials that have boiled off everywhere else on the world. Yet within these permanent shadows, relics from billions of years ago may still persist.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA, via http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA20126.

Come find out what might be in there on today’s Mostly Mute Monday!