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STATES CHRONICLE – NASA has found that the dwarf planet Ceres has numerous craters on its surface which act as cold traps and retain water.
Ceres has several regions all over its surface which are never hit by direct light, being permanently obstructed and hidden in the shadows. Considering the planet’s distance from the Sun, the unlit areas are estimated to be cold enough to allow water ice to accumulate in them over hundreds of millions of years. As such, NASA scientists firmly believe that the permanently shadowed areas on the surface of Ceres should hold ice deposits.
Ceres, The Icemonger
There are several factors which need to be considered in order for NASA’s theory to, much like Ceres itself, hold water.
First of all, Ceres is a dwarf planet. It is almost four times smaller than Earth’s Moon. An astral body that small can barely hold itself together into a round shape. As such, Ceres’ gravitational pull is just barely strong enough to retain a part of the water.
Secondly, not all the craters on the surface of Ceres can trap water ice. The craters do need to be deep enough for sunlight to not directly hit the bottom of the crater or to permanently hide a large section of the wall and floor. Direct sunlight aside, indirect lighting could partly get into the craters also minimizing the amount of water ice which would be left every year.
Thirdly and finally, apart from lighting, there is also the issue of surface warmth. The planet is mostly affected by solar radiation directly, having to rely on its distance from the Sun to stay cool. Polar craters are usually the only ones who are cold enough to keep water frozen.
Given the surface of the planet, its poles are in no way wide. The polar craters are not all that deep, or that protected from sunlight.
Nevertheless, NASA did the math. They currently estimate that in the case of the northern hemisphere, small areas summing up to 695 square miles are permanently hidden in the shadows. While the sum of the areas is less than one percent of the dwarf planet’s surface, they are dark and they are cold.
Ceres had a billion years of time to slowly accumulate water ice and NASA is confident that they will find several ice deposits in those craters.
Image Courtesy of YouTube.