There may be a mysterious structure rich in organic compounds beneath Ceres’ surface

Ceres is a dwarf planet It is located within the asteroid belt between the orbit of Mars and the orbit of Jupiter. It is a small celestial body with a diameter of 939 kilometers, but it is also the largest body in this belt. It rotates on its axis in 9 hours. And 4 minutes.

The dwarf planet’s surface is dark and covered in carbon-rich regolith. Interestingly, Ceres has a large, rocky core surrounded by up to 30 percent material. Water ice. The amount of water on this planet is five times greater than the amount of fresh water on Earth. It is also necessary to mention that it occurs on the surface CryovolcanoesFrom which brines flow – it can be an ideal environment for microbial life to develop.

Previous space missions have revealed this Some of Ceres’ craters contain complex organic compounds. Until now, scientists have been wondering whether these unique particles came via carbon-rich asteroids or whether they were “original” particles from Ceres itself.

It may have existed under the planet’s surface in the past OceanIn which different types of chemical reactions can occur. Over hundreds of millions of years, this ocean turned to ice.

Organic materials were initially discovered near a large impact crater, which prompted us to look at how impacts affected these organic materials. We’ve discovered that organic matter may be more widespread than initially reported – Tyreek Daly, planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

Scientists wanted to check whether organic compounds could resist space impacts. Therefore, they recreated the appropriate conditions in a special laboratory, using, among other things, NASA Ames Vertical Shooting Range. The device released particles whose composition matched the properties of materials found on Ceres.

The impact speed ranged from 2 to 6 km/s, and the impact occurred at an angle of 15-90 degrees to the flat surface. It turns out These compounds can survive cosmic effects.

But as scientists said, the analyzes were not sufficient to solve the mystery of the origin of the mentioned organic materials.

Despite the relative failures, the team of scientists did not give up, and in the next step they combined data from the Dawn spacecraft’s camera and spectroscopic data. In this way detailed information was obtained Map of the location of organic materials on Ceres’ surface. Scientists estimated that the complex compounds came from inside the dwarf planet.

Scientists have observed a very high correlation between organic materials and ancient impact units. A similar connection is also associated with the presence of carbonates that form in the presence of water.

– Although the origin of organic matter is still not well understood, we now have good evidence for it I grew up on Ceres Perhaps in the presence of water. There is a possibility that Inside Ceres you can find a large internal reservoir of organic matter. “In my view, this result increases the astrobiological potential of this dwarf planet,” added Juan Rizos, an astrophysicist at the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics in Spain.

The results of the research were presented at the Geological Society of America conference GSA Calls 2023.

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